Environmental Journalism in Vietnam

Tuesday - 30/04/2013 11:59
The seminar entitled “Environmental Journalism in Vietnam: Latest developments, players, and topics” was co-organized by Faculty of Journalism and Communications (USSH) and Konrad Adenauer Stiftung (Federal Republic of Germany) on 24th May, 2012.
Environmental Journalism in Vietnam
Environmental Journalism in Vietnam


Following the opening session, the seminar was carried out in three sessions, each of which focused on a specific topic. Photo: Thanh Long/USSH

Attending the seminar were speakers from state-agencies dealing with environmental management, non-governmental organizations, media agencies and communication training institutions within the country. Prof. Dr. Nguyen Van Khanh (USSH’s Rector) attended and delivered the key speech.

The seminar focused on main topics including the current environmental issues that the press should pay attention to; the types of media currently reflecting the environmental issues in Vietnam; and solutions to the training of environmental journalists: experiences of other countries and lessons for Vietnam.

Prof. Dr. Nguyen Van Khanh – USSH’s Rector gave a speech at the opening ceremony. Photo: Thanh Long/USSH

Journalism on environmental issues and sustainable development

Environment and sustainable development is a “hot” topic having drawn much attention from the media. At the seminar, Dr. Le Ke Son (Deputy Head of Department of Environment, Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment) said in order to improve the effects of environmental journalism in Vietnam, today’s communications should focus on such topics as the synchronization of environmental concepts; adjustments to communication approaches, methods, contents and skills.

Emphasizing the role of the journalism in environmental and climate change communication, Dr. Pham Thi My (Editor-in-Chief of Natural Resources and Environment Newspaper) said press agencies consider environment and climate change as “hot” issues. And the public opinion put a high pressure on state-agencies in solving environmental problems in Vietnam. However, according to her, media coverage of environment and climate change is still limited. It had not comprehensively reflected the relevant issues.

Referring to the topic of sustainable development, Prof. Dr. Truong Ba Thanh (Rector of School of Economics, University of Da Nang) also said that we need to focus on raising the public awareness of environment. At the moment, the media is only concerned about the thrilling issues while not paying attention to sustainable environmental development.

Dr. Nguyen Chu Hoi (Deputy Head of Department of Sea and Islands of Vietnam – Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment) stated while the  climate change issues in coastal areas have received greater attention than in the past, those concerning global oceans are not adequately reported. Therefore, the media should deal more with climate change in oceans that is likely to lead to the global climate change.

The problems and solutions to environmental journalist practices

Discussing the practices of environmental journalism, journalist Hoang Quoc Dung (Chairman of Forum of Environmental Journalists of Vietnam) pointed out visible and invisible obstacles in accessing information. And according to journalist Hoang Quoc Dung, the environment is a subject easy to write but difficult to master. And also, the capacity of journalists is one of the biggest obstacles to reporting environmental issues.

According to Mr. Dong Manh Hung (Director of TV Channel of VOV – Voice of Vietnam), the environment is an attractive but sensitive topic. How to effectively deliver information is what the press should think of. Mr. Dong Manh Hung shared: “When reporting environmental issues, press agencies should have a strategy. The strategy should be aligned with major environmental issues worldwide and in Vietnam”. “Regarding our journalists, besides their enthusiasm, they should be trained not only in professional skills but also given knowledge of environment and climate change.”

MA. Bui Viet Ha (Lecturer at Faculty of Journalism and Communications) through a case study “The project of clean coal production from industrial wastes” presented a community-based communication model in which every individual member of the community serves as not only subjects but also objects of the media’s messages. Ms. Bui Viet Ha specially emphasized the communication of environment issuses should be based on community’s demands and help them find out a way to raise their own voices on the issues.

According to Ms. Bui Viet Ha,communication on environment issuses should consider community’s demands and help them raise their own voice Photo: Thanh Long/USSH

Agreeing with Ms. Bui Viet Ha, Phan Van Tu (PhD candidate, Lecturer at the Faculty of Journalism and Communications – University of Social Sciences and Humanities – VNU-HCM) also highlighted the role of the community’s voices in reporting environmental issues in Vietnam. Mr. Phan Van Tu said the media played a key role in encouraging communities to raise their own voices.

Training Environmental Journalists

In Vietnam, there has been no institution that trains environmental journalists. Dr. Huynh Van Thong (Dean of the Faculty of Journalism and Communications – University of Social Sciences and Humanities–VNU HCM) said: Environmental journalism has not appeared in the journalism curricula of almost all training institutions in Vietnam. The institutions should actively work together to build up a proper program in environment.

Prof. Van Gia raised a question to the speaker. Photo: Thanh Long/USSH

Mrs. Dang Thi Thu Huong (Dean of the Faculty of Journalism and Communications – University of Social Sciences and Humanities – VNU) stated: “Environmental journalism is growing up in Vietnam. Accordingly, there has been a generation of environmental journalists that specialize in this field. The remaining issue is that environmental journalists should master the required knowledge and skills through professional improvement. The Faculty of Journalism and Communications, USSH, VNU is going to adjust its curricula and environmental journalism module is going to be integrated in its programs".

The seminar helped Faculty of Journalism and Communications gain experiences based on which to adjust its curricula to meet practical requirements. And the seminar also contributed to the formation of networks of cooperation among scientists, environmental journalists and journalism training institutions.

Author: Nguyen Hang

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