From Blog to Facebook – Your Voice Matter? An Insight into the Surge of Citizen Media in Vietnam
17 Pages Posted: 26 Nov 2014
Date Written: September 11, 2014
London July 2005 - On the first day after the tragic bombing in the city, over 1,000 images and 20 videos were sent into the newsroom of BBC. Featured on the front pages of several mayor newspapers was an iconic image by Alexander Chadwick, a survivor who photographed the chaotic scene in the London underground. The growth of user-generated content from this tragedy, as noted by Jeff Borenstein (2009), marked “a watershed moment” in the journalism industry: passive victims of a terrorist action became participants in the news making process.
Hanoi October 2013 - Vo Nguyen Giap, Vietnam's legendary general who masterminded victories against France and the US, has died in Hanoi. The news of his death broke on social media sites on Friday evening and the landmark event was quickly followed by the country's swelling ranks of Internet users. Facebook, the most popular social media platform in Vietnam was erupted into tributes and condolences since Friday after users heard of the military strategist's death.
The above examples are only two among hundreds of similar events that we are seeing every day. Across much of the world, thanks to the development of communication technologies especially the Internet, the one-way interaction between readers and news-makers has been ruptured; who and what constitutes the news has considerably changed, particularly in the emerging public zones of the blogosphere and social media. This phenomenon of consumers increasingly participating in the process of making and circulating media leads to a remarkable change in how media is made and consumed; how the meaning of media text and the status of professional journalistic labor is now conceived.
During the last few years in Vietnam, social media have risen as an important source of information besides state-controlled media and played an important role in defining and promoting new forms of citizen media in the country. However this is still a fairly new concept in Vietnam and there is little literature written about this phenomenon in the country. Therefore, my aim is to conduct an exploratory research into this field, to provide a preliminary insight into the surge of citizen media in Vietnam. In this paper, after reviewing theoretical background of media and citizenry especially citizen media, I analyze recent developments in the blogging movement and Facebook with a focus on their role in promoting citizen journalism as well as re-shaping the country's media landscape. Specifically, I would like to explore “what are the main contributions of social media (blogs and Facebook) in Vietnam?” and from that to find out “how can citizen journalism in Vietnam progressively integrate itself into today's differentiated media ecology?”
In order to answer the key questions, I apply mainly qualitative method as primary sources and related material as secondary sources. A short survey of ten questions has been sent to 100 young Vietnamese people age 18-35. I also carried out deeper interviews with three young people currently living in the cities that have better access to the Internet and also account for the majority of bloggers and social network users in Vietnam.
From my research, it shows that social media in Vietnam has seen a spectacular rise in the last few years, which made certain changes to the country's media landscape and to some extent helped facilitate various forms of citizen led initiatives. One of the key contributions of blogs and Facebook in the country is to promote grassroots reporting of “untouched” issues and to provide alternative viewpoints from state-controlled official media outlets. This new genre of media has progressively integrated itself into today's differentiated media ecology of the country, inspiring people to learn, debate and participate further in political discourse. Opening further opportunities for political discussion among citizen, the rise of citizen journalism in Vietnam has contributed to facilitating and sustaining a healthy democratization process. Thus, we see the capacity of social media to bolster critical discussions on public affairs among different groups of the public.
However, the facts that both mainstream media and social media in Vietnam still being under rather tight control directly and indirectly from the state, and the narrowing impact of citizen journalism only within a small group of young, urban Internet users remind us that heading to a democratic media is never an easy and overnight story. In the years to come, press freedom, digital divide, media literacy is still complex questions for each and all of us....
Keywords: Media; citizen, content; regulation, access, information
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