|Politburo member Le Hong Anh (centre) visits the showroom of the Vietnam News Agency yesterday. On the same day, former VNA war correspondents gathered at VNA headquarter for a symposium on war reporting. — VNA/VNS Photo Phuong Hoa
HA NOI (VNS)— Former war correspondents of the Vietnam News Agency were both reporters and soldiers, a senior journalist said at a symposium yesterday.
More than 20 former war correspondents of Vietnam News Agency and other domestic media outlets as well as international delegates gathered at the VNA headquarters in Ha Noi to attend the symposium on war reporting.
They recalled experiences and memories of reporting in the war that ended nearly 40 years ago.
VNA Director Nguyen Duc Loi said the media had played a huge role in recording history and former Vietnamese war correspondents of the agency were both journalists and soldiers. "Our war correspondents, with great courage and huge sacrifices, had to work under the extreme conditions of the war," Loi said.
"They risked their lives to accurately report the war and enforced the belief of all Vietnamese soldiers and people that we would fight to the end for national independence."
More than 260 correspondents and technical staff of Vietnam News Agency were killed during the war, accounting for one fourth of the entire staff at the time.
Some of the bureaus were completely destroyed during the war and had to be rebuilt several times, Loi said.
VNA photographers took some of the most iconic images of the war against the US, with correspondents being right in the heart of former Sai Gon on April 30, the day the war ended. Some of the photographs were exhibited yesterday on the sidelines of the symposium.
Former VNA General Director and one of the most notable war correspondents of VNA, Tran Mai Huong, said the term "journalist soldier" was a reality, as correspondents were on the frontlines in every battle.
He said the Vietnamese correspondents had to report using antiquated equipment and sometimes, it could take several days to walk back to their offices and process their photos under American bombing.
Huong noted that modern wars were being covered with much more advanced equipment, but the key to great reporting still depended on the person.
He said that the courage, skill and spirit war correspondents had accumulated during their years of reporting from the frontline had helped them excel in their roles as leaders of various media organisations later.
Duong Duc Quang, another VNA war reporter, said they had worked hard to use their words and photos to convey the truth about the war. "We fought and lived with other soldiers. We recorded the victories but also had to witness many losses," he said.
Quang recalled that many of his colleagues were killed during the war and their remains were only recovered many years later.
Media Professor Remzie Shahini-Hoxhaj from the University of Prishtina in Kosovo said she found the symposium very interesting because she'd also experienced conflict, with her country only gaining independence in 2008.
She said it was interesting to see how Vietnamese people were open to new cultures and focusing on building friendship with people who used to be from the other side, like the US. This was a message that she would take back to her country, she said.
The conference is part of a series of events on media coverage of wars organised by VNA, Viettel Television, the People's Army newspaper, Academy of Journalism and Communication and the Vietnam Journalists' Association. — VNS