Vietnamese Press Council
Being home to a state-controlled media system, Vietnam does not offer space for independent accountability systems. Vietnamese Press Council, set up in 1959, predictably does not remain free from state interference. The council, under the purview of the Ministry of Home Affairs, appoints retired government officials as its committee members. The Code of Ethics of the Vietnamese Press Council lays down rules for journalists.
Vietnamese Journalists Association
The Vietnamese Journalists Association too exists in accordance to the legal provision for such a body provided in the Media Law (Article 16). The association, as described in the Media Law, is entrusted with the “right and obligation to participate in the establishment, and to contribute to the implementation, of the information-media policy and to protect the rights and legal benefits of journalists.”
The Media Law (Article 6) specifies the rights and responsibility of journalists. Being statutory in nature, this, however, cannot be categorised as Code of Ethics. The details are as follows:
1. Journalists shall have the following rights:
(a) To carry out media activities within the territory of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam; to carry out media activities overseas in accordance with regulations of the Government;
(b) To seek out and to be supplied with information in the course of media activities in accordance with provisions of the law;
(c) To refuse to write or to participate in the compilation of a media work that is contrary to the laws on media;
(d) To receive training and encouragement to improve their professional media standards; to enjoy a number of preferential regimes which are necessary in the performance of media activities as regulated by the Government;
(e) To be protected by the law in the conduct of their profession. No person shall be permitted to threaten or intimidate the life of or to damage the reputation and dignity of journalists, to destroy or detain facilities or materials, or to prevent journalists from conducting their profession properly and in accordance with law.
2. Journalists shall have the following obligations:
(a) To report truthfully domestic and world current affairs in conformity with the interests of the country and its citizens; to report the opinions and the legitimate aspirations of citizens; to contribute to the exercise of freedom of the media and the right of freedom of speech of citizens through the media;
(b) To protect the guidelines and policies of the Party and the laws of the State; to seek out and protect positive initiatives; to fight against wrong ideology and wrongful conduct;
(c) To undertake regular study and training to improve their political standards and their ethical and professional media standards; not to abuse their position as journalists to cause trouble or to breach the law;
(d) To correct and apologize where they report information, which is untruthful, distorted, or slanderous and harmful to the reputation of an organization or to the reputation and dignity of an individual;
(e) To be responsible before the law and before the head of their media organizations for the material in their media releases and for actions which breach the laws on media.
Lack of professionalism and journalistic ethics feature among the various challenges faced by the Vietnamese media. A local reporter said in an interview that journalists in small media organisations are paid a remuneration of not more than USD 120-150, which contributes towards the practice of corruption in the profession. Self-censorship is also common as a result of the legal provisions. Though training is available in the form of post-graduate courses and journalism institutes, many practitioners lack basic professional knowledge and skills. Legal reform of the media is necessary to encourage better performance and connection to the people. The space needs to be expanded to allow private ownership of media and unbiased information and discourse on government and politics. Such milieu can create space for effective media accountability systems.Back to top