Recent months have seen Vietnam emerge as a global role model due to its successful handling of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic through implementing plenty of drastic measures and managing to mobilise the entire political system, medical workers, soldiers, police, media workers, and citizens to contribute to the fight. In line with the theme of the Asia-Pacific Broadcasting Union (ABU) General Assembly 2020, “Media in time of crisis: Creativity and innovation for multiplatform”, Assoc. Prof. & Dr. Nguyen The Ky, President of the Voice of Vietnam (VOV) granted ABU an interview, shedding light on the Vietnamese experience in fighting the pandemic, along with VOV, a key media agency, and its role in tackling the crisis. Here is the full text from the interview which was published in ABU News Magazine, Quarter 2 2020.
Assoc. Prof. & Dr. Nguyen The Ky, could you please outline why Vietnam has succeeded in curbing the spread of the COVID -19 pandemic?
|VOV Director General Nguyen The Ky says with its integrated media genres, VOV is a pioneer in dealing with crisis in Vietnam
Since March, the COVID-19 pandemic has hit almost all countries and territories worldwide, causing great disruption for all aspects of life. Vietnam has made every effort to limit the spread of the disease through the implementation of many appropriate and consistent guidelines combined with measures taken from the central to grassroots levels, embodied in the following core strategies:
Firstly, Vietnam has attached great importance to relaying information about the dangers of the pandemic, particularly if it spreads throughout a community, meaning the whole of society must be proactive in preventing and pushing back the pandemic. Indeed, from the outset, the country has strictly implemented a range of anti-epidemic measures such as screening, classification, zoning, and isolation of sources of infection, with the aim of minimising the likelihood of infection within a community. These correct, swift, and sensible decisions serve as the prerequisite for Vietnamese success.
Secondly, Vietnam has managed to mobilise all social resources to combat the epidemic, with doctors, nurses, managers, scientists, as well as hospitals and medical centres from central to grassroots levels forming the core, alongside other forces such as the police, military, traffic officials, customs, and border guards.
Thirdly, the initial success can be attributed to the unity and solidarity shown by the Vietnamese people. Citizens have strictly adhered to and voluntarily implemented drastic measures against the virus, including social distancing and community quarantine. The fight indicated that great human affection can be expressed in an emotional and humane manner in the spirit of sharing and mutual assistance.
Fourthly, much has been made of technological applications in terms of crisis management and control. All residents were required to fill out the health declaration form online and report their travel history to authorities. Simultaneously, the country upgraded its medical facilities in a bid to meet the demand for treatment and prevention. At present, Vietnam is one of the few countries that has successfully cultivated and isolated the new coronavirus strain, 2019-nCoV, and been able to produce COVID-19 test kits for many countries globally to use.
The country has utilised the activities of all media agencies across all platforms to raise public awareness about disease prevention activities and early detection of the virus. The country’s media system is a closely linked network of media agencies comprised of the national radio broadcaster, the national television broadcaster, provincial and municipal radio & television broadcasters. In addition, there are newspapers, magazines, and a system consisting of tens of thousands of loud speakers throughout various communes and wards.
Finally, the response to the epidemic has been both flexible and proactive. Once the epidemic had been mostly brought under control, the Government moved to gradually ease social distancing and quickly moved to initiate a new normal, embarking on the dual goal of both epidemic control and economic recovery. The Government therefore adopted relief packages aimed at assisting local firms to weather the storm, generate jobs, and support needy people throughout society.
With the synchronous implementation and flexible co-ordination of different strategies put in place, Vietnam has successfully handled the COVID-19 crisis while the pandemic was evolving in a complex manner both regionally and globally. By mid-June, more than 300 COVID-19 cases had been confirmed nationwide, of which more than 100 had returned from epidemic-hit countries. Of the total, 96.7% of infected cases have gone on to make a full recovery, whilst no deaths have been recorded. These are considered the ‘golden figures’ for the nation in the fight against the epidemic.
Could you tell us about the role that the Voice of Vietnam (VOV) has played in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic?
Boasting a total of four media platforms, namely radio, television, newspaper, an online newspaper, as well the VOVMedia and VTCNow apps, VOV has taken full advantage of multimedia communication in an effort to cater to the needs of our audience both at home and abroad. All news stories, including in-depth analysis and live broadcasts about the pandemic, were effectively transmitted in 12 foreign languages and 13 ethnic minority languages across 8 radio and 17 TV channels, in addition to being published by a print newspaper, a print magazine, and two online newspapers, namely vov.vn and vtc.vn. These broadcasts and publications managed to reach all cities, provinces, districts, and communes, even those located in far-flung mountainous regions.
Throughout all VOV media platforms, the COVID-19 topic was always granted high priority in terms of both quality and quantity. Different styles and models of modern journalism were applied, including field interviews, talk shows involving experts and celebrities, in addition to communicating with regular citizens. On average, VOV has broadcast approximately 250 news bulletins, in-depth reports, and programmes about COVID-19 locally and globally on a daily basis.
VOV currently has a network of 13 representative bureaus abroad that have been able to provide audiences with up-to-date, wide coverage of the pandemic in their host countries and adjacent areas. Their coverage largely focused on ways that local authorities and people have responded to the pandemic, the impact of the virus on people’s life, as well as the pandemic from the perspectives of specialists, researchers, and scientists. Each VOV representative bureau abroad is considered an important link in the chain, contributing to building a strong and pioneering information network that VOV can use to help in COVID-19 prevention and control.
|The interview is published in ABU News Magazine, Quarter 2 2020
How has VOV produced creative radio and television shows to deal with the crisis and serve its audience?
As the leading national press agency, VOV has fulfilled its social responsibilities of disseminating oriented information, therefore emerging as the most reliable information channel with regard to epidemic prevention and control.
VOV has drawn up a concise communication strategy with many creative forms in an effort to enhance the power of communication as follows:
+ Diversifying forms of communication, including developing COVID-19 targeted programmes, and launching art composing and performing contests to encourage audience members to participate whilst also raising public awareness about epidemic prevention steps. The prize-winning works, including songs or dramas, will be performed by famous artists to increase the number of interactions and popularise the topic among society.
+ Developing an online teaching scheme for students and pupils at all levels through VOV’s television broadcasting system and the VTCNow app.
+ Launching “What do you know about coronavirus?” through the VTCNow app, running live coverage of COVID-19 related events, such as press conferences of the Ministry of Health and meetings of the National Steering Committee on COVID-19 Prevention and Control, whilst giving in-depth coverage of developments at press conferences hosted by China or the World Health Organization. Moreover, VOV’s VTCNow app has now attracted more than 10,000 followers, and the number of real-time viewers has increased to nearly 50,000 at a time when any breaking news is broadcast live. In addition, more than 175,000 people have liked this app.
+ Developing many special radio show such as “The fight against COVID 19 and the courageous examples”, “The war against an invisible enemy”, and “The fight for life and death” which are to be broadcast on VOV channels in many different languages.
+ Incorporating various types of the media to optimise communication content. Indeed, VOV’s radio and television broadcasts are uploaded to social media, fan pages, along with through four types of media in order to reach further and increase strong audience interaction. I must say that VOV is considered to be a legitimate and useful source of information, providing the public with both experience and knowledge in all challenging circumstances.
What are VOV’s short-term and long-term strategies for dealing with the current COVID-19 pandemic as well as any future crises?
Reality has shown that the press, radio, television, and the communication system in general play an important role in the fight against COVID-19. They shed light on what an ongoing crisis is like, alongside providing analysis and a roadmap for the future, as well as the responsibility of media agencies towards the crisis.
In 2020, VOV is honoured to host the 57th ABU General Assembly in Hanoi. The occasion will run with the theme of “Media in Time of Crisis: Creativity and Innovation for Multiplatform”, with a useful exchange forum on content strategies to deal with the crisis being held. More than ever this theme is of particular practicality and urgency as the whole world, including the media industry, has been left facing and seeking to overcome the serious impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In the face of many present-day challenges, VOV has mapped out several key short- and long-term measures aimed at dealing with the crisis, as follows:
- In the short term:
+ Promoting communication to the community about the ongoing nature of a crisis and crisis management experience.
+ Making the most of VOV’s strengths, from broadcasts, social networks, to online applications, in an effort to improve the efficiency of information transmission and cater for a diverse audience.
+ Hosting exchanges and talk shows aimed at raising public awareness of the concept of “co-living with crisis” to find ways to cushion the impact of the crisis.
- In the long term:
+ Building a contingent of media workers who possess a detailed knowledge of epidemics, natural disasters, and different types of crisis, and who are capable of working in all circumstances.
+ Constantly renovating and improving the quality of outputs across all media types, such as radio, television, print, and online press. VOV will develop a content development strategy focusing on for main groups: news and current affairs both at home and abroad; knowledge popularisation, education and cultural identity preservation; entertainment; and commerce.
+ Modernising the technical and technological infrastructure system in a bid to adapt to and meet new demands from the public.
Can VOV offer any advice or experience to colleagues in the region and the world in dealing with the challenges caused by the crisis?
|VOV's VTC reporters run special live coverage of COVID-19 from Hanoi's Bach Mai hospital - a coronavirus hotspot in Vietnam
Crisis is one of the inevitable challenges that any nation in the world will face. To cope with the crisis, each nation must strive to develop its own strategy to suit the situation and capacity. As for communication, VOV will focus on maximising the capacity to successfully handle the crisis, therefore VOV would like to share some of its experience:
- Always closely monitoring and reporting the crisis in an honest, calm, objective, and responsible manner to all parts of the press, in various forms and languages, both foreign and ethnic languages, in order to reach out to the vast majority of people located in different regions.
- Learning about the habits and preferences of citizens in order to turn them into an effective communication tool. For instance, in Vietnam, people love to compose, listen to, and perform familiar, simple folk tunes. VOV therefore moves to incorporate folk songs into its broadcasts to deliver a coherent message about the crisis.
- Inviting celebrities or influential figures to appear on talk shows or programmes to popularise the message to the public.
- Developing many creative broadcasts in an effort to increase audience interaction.
- Promoting VOV’s image as a close and friendly media agency that is fully prepared to share difficulties with the public.
- Strengthening co-operation with Vietnamese and international media agencies to spread vital information about the crisis, so as to handle the crisis in the best way possible.