Thursday, December 3 2020


No room for fake news when the truth must be told

Update: May, 23/2020 - 07:44


Việt Nam tops the list of countries where the media is most trusted in terms of COVID-19 coverage, according to the YouGov survey. Photo

Paul Kennedy

Việt Nam has received plaudits from around the world for the way the country, its Government and people have dealt with the COVID-19 pandemic.

As the country returns to some sort of normality, elsewhere in the world people are looking on in envy at how well we are doing.

This week another huge pat on the back was dished out, this time to the country’s media outlets and journalists after a YouGov survey put Việt Nam top of the list of countries where the media is most trusted in terms of COVID-19 coverage.

High praise indeed in the social media-driven world we live in for the hardworking and dedicated staff in newsrooms nationwide entrusted with the job of reporting the news.

Rewind three years to 2017. This was a momentous year for wordsmiths. Collins, publishers of the dictionary, voted the phrase of the year to be “fake news”.

Lexicographers said usage of the term had increased by 365 per cent since 2016. Today those two words are very much part of our everyday language.

But really it’s nothing more than a cop-out. An excuse used if something you are reading, watching or listening to doesn’t fit in with your usual way of thinking. If you don’t agree with what’s being said, then it is simple to dismiss it as nothing more than “fake news”.

Its origin doesn’t need explaining. We all know who coined the phrase and helped elevate its usage.

But really, if you think long and hard about it, it’s a dangerous and almost lazy expression to use.

I don’t like this, it's fake news.

I don’t agree with this, it's fake news.

This doesn’t comply with anything else I believe in, no matter how wrong I am, therefore it has to be fake news, right?

Today, as the world desperately tries to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic, news needs to be anything other than fake.

Journalists in whatever medium they work must strive to provide accurate information to keep the public abreast of exactly what’s going on. There is no room for fake news.

Stories need to be on-point. Reports need to be clear, transparent and paint the entire picture.

That’s why the YouGov survey result is not just a feather in the caps of the country’s press, it’s a big, shiny badge of honour that should be worn with pride.

Journalists often, for want of a better phrase, get a bad press. We are an easy target, more so now because of the ease at which our reports can be dismissed using the above-mentioned phrase.

But let’s face facts here. We are not employees of a company that clocks on at 8am and finishes at 5pm with an hour’s lunch in-between.

We are the guardians of accuracy. We have a duty to educate, entertain and inform the world exactly what’s what.

We do not have a job, we have a responsibility. And for those looking in from the outside, we don’t just make things up. We don’t just report what we think you want to hear and we don’t just take a slap-dash approach when it comes to writing stories.

We are up at the crack of dawn and in the office long after the sun has set.

The entire world right now has one thing on its mind. Whether you are locked down in a favela on the outskirts of Rio de Janeiro in Brazil or staring out of your window in downtown Liverpool in the north of England, there is only one thing you are thinking about – COVID-19.

These are unprecedented times that require a completely honest style of reporting. That’s why we are not here to sensationalise, exaggerate or provide misinformation.

Việt Nam’s National Steering Committee for COVID-19 Prevention and Control needs our help. They tell us twice a day, every day, how many new cases have been detected, where those cases came from, and where those individuals have been.

We then become their mouthpiece, giving the country vital information they need to know to help reach our one common goal – winning the war against coronavirus.

And then there is the human side of the COVID-19 coverage that needs reporting too. The elderly woman who, despite being in her 90s, gives up her free time to make face masks for the poor. The deaf and dumb teenager who paints amazing pictures to sell to raise money for the cause.

And, of course, the frontline staff. Those heroes without capes serving and protecting a nation in the face of a deadly enemy. Putting their lives on the line so we can all sleep soundly at night.

These stories are uplifting, heart-warming and must be told.

There is no room right now for fake news and we at Việt Nam News, just like everyone in newsrooms from Hà Nội to HCM City are not in the business of misleading you just for the sake of clicks and likes.

If you don’t believe us, just check the statistics from YouGov, which put this great nation at the top of the world when it comes to trustworthy journalism on COVID-19.

And there’s nothing fake about that. — VNS

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