Hoàng Mi – Journalism in Asia Today
What is your day-to-day task in your publication/organisation?
I produce online news and features for our print magazine. Some days, I attend meetings or interviews away from office. On other days, I will chase news through the phone, via social media or from friends of friends. At times, I have to play the role of editor – getting updates about articles and fact-checking before relaying it to the editor-in-chief – when working with my contributors.
What is the greatest challenge in journalism today in this region?
The greatest challenge in journalism today is trust. The widespread presence of fake news produced by these so-called newsrooms mainly via digital networks is troubling. At times, even trustworthy media sources would make mistakes. As a result, in Vietnam, when a breaking news event happens, there can be different information coming from different sources. Such a phenomenon confuses the general public and they don’t know which source they should place their trust.
How important is journalism in Asia?
When Westerners travel here, they may observe something unique about countries in this region. People on the streets still read the physical newspaper while having their cup of coffee. The conversation continues from the news they read and how it was reported in the newspaper. In Vietnam, most citizens – especially the elderly – still consider the newspapers as their main source of information.
What’s the greatest lesson you’ve learnt from another journalist in Asia?
As someone working in science journalism for a long period, my time at the Asia Journalism Fellowship introduced me to other diverse forms of journalism. Not just in terms of content but also form. This includes slow journalism, telling more human-interest stories. Not to forget how journalism is funded and products like the sponsored article.
What do you think is the most important issue/story in your country/region?
Personally, start-ups are the most important issue in my country. Every newsroom mentions about this issue at least one or twice a month since 2014. The media tries to explore every angle possible as well as featuring the successful cases. In some newspapers, it is reported a bit different but the objective is the same. For example, Forbes Vietnam will list the ‘30 under 30’ talented individuals yearly. Most of them are the successful entrepreneurs.
What are you most optimistic about as a journalist in Asia?
As a journalist in Asia, there are so many opportunities to make a difference. For example, Damar Harsanto, a journalist from Indonesia, wants to establish a guide for a hyperlocal newsroom. Bolor Zaankhuu, from Mongolia, launched a website about traveling and fashion. Patithin Phetmeuangphuan, from Laos, is a part of Reading Elephant Laos that aims to improve literacy skills among Lao children in remote villages of Bokeo province. Personally, my friends have encouraged me to write a book about children in Asia. As most of Asia is still developing, there are many areas in Asia that are unexplored.
What does it mean to be a journalist in Asia, as compared to the rest of the world?
As a journalist in my country, I face strict censorship. When discussing this issue with journalists from other Asian countries, most of them feel a sense of frustration. But in a way, we share the same experience and that’s a start. The good thing is that most of us are aware of this censorship and want to change it.
Hoàng Mi (Vietnam) worked as a writer and editor with Science and Technology Information Magazine in Ho Chi Minh City before switching to being a freelance contributor and editor in 2016. She was a researcher in the food industry before making a switch to journalism in 2009 and remains excited about the science and technology beat.
Journalism in Asia is a collection of portraits and interviews from influential journalists in Asia presented every Monday morning.