Nguyễn Cao Cường
Nguyễn Cao Cường, Deputy Director of the Journalism and Communications Centre of the University of Social Sciences and Humanities, talks to Hải quan (Customs) newspaper about the role of the business press that has boomed in recent years.
Apart from reporting on enterprises’ activities, business media also play a key role in questioning the Government’s economic policies. How are they doing so far?
Recently there have been some big legal changes that we should all take notice of. They are the amendments to the Law on Enterprises and the Law on Investment. Those two laws are the legal foundation to Việt Nam’s investment and economy. Before the amendments were made, a number of administrative or technical barriers had been set up, which consequently caused a lot of difficulties for the enterprises and investors.
So who has expressed their voices on those hurdles? Of course the enterprises were the first ones. They raised their issues during meetings with the Government, forums or workshops, which were too limited in numbers to really prompt a move from the authorities. The enterprises had to rely on another communications channel – the media. The media sometimes even put tremendous pressure on authorities regarding the issues, which then helped the Government realise the problems and make changes to the laws.
What should business reporters specifically pay attention to during their work?
All reporters, particularly business reporters, must have knowledge and skills in the areas they specialise in, as their work could lead to unexpected consequences for concerned parties. Recently, an enterprise sued an online newspaper for allegedly publishing false facts about the enterprise, resulting in financial losses. The media have a huge impact on enterprises, especially those listed on the stock exchanges. False information can severely pull down a company’s share price and severely affect its business. There have been a number of reporters sued, arrested or brought to trial for work misconduct over the last few years.
I also want to stress another issue in business journalism: some reporters have taken advantage of their career to ask for money from enterprises. It is real and it is still happening now. The Ministry of Information and Communications acknowledged the issue and deemed it a bad phenomenon in all of their annual reports.
I myself have asked multiple times to develop, issue and implement journalism occupational standards in Việt Nam, which can help improve the image of reporters and journalists. In foreign news agencies, they have strict and clear standards on the issue - for example, on whether reporters are allowed to receive gifts from the newspapers’ partners, or how much a gift is worth that reporters can accept. If they receive what they are not allowed to, it will be seen as bribery. Việt Nam so far does not have any kind of regulation like that.
Vietnamese media agencies have their own standards, but they are still very vague and do not clearly regulate how reporters should act and behave in each of their career activities. Business media have only boomed in recent years and still have a lot to do to reach the level of other advanced countries. – VNS