Several reports say that enterprises and other organisations have been approached by people falsely claiming to be media personnel. These people have offered to write positive stories in return for cash. Can you throw some light on this situation?
To enable media workers to perform their jobs well, the Ministry of Information and Communications has granted almost 18,000 press cards. These workers have accomplished their tasks of conveying the people's voice to the Party and State; and to disseminate Party and State policies to the people to help them understand what's happening in the country and the world.
However, in many localities, some people have claimed to be media workers and approached companies, promising to write good stories about them. Some have even threatened that if they are not paid, they would write bad stories and tarnish the names of the companies/organisations.
For instance, there was a case in which one man, working in collusion with a fortune teller, attempted to blackmail a woman who'd been sexually assaulted. The man, who claimed to be reporter, threatened to expose what had happened to the woman if she did not pay him.
More seriously, some press bureau representatives in provinces have issued letters of introduction from their bureau to non-staff members to act as their reporters and ask companies for bribes.
Under the law, only people who have been granted press cards are allowed to perform a reporter's job. However, some media agencies have issued letters that function as a press card.
The representative office of a newspaper in Nha Trang, for instance, issued such a paper, but when the case was exposed, the head office of that newspaper flatly rejected accusations of abuse, saying the person was not an employee.
These cases are serious violations of the Vietnamese Press Law and administrative regulations. They have tainted the media workers' prestige and hindered some reporters in carrying out their professional duties.
What is the role of press management offices in talking this malpractice?
Press management agencies, and office heads in particular, should take responsibility. Under the press law, a representative office has no power to circulate official cards from the paper to non-staff members. This is regulated in the 2013 Press Law, Article 6, Clause 2, point A of Government Decree 159/2013 and Circular 13/2012 issued by the Ministry of Information and Communications.
Has the Ministry of Information and Communications taken any steps to ensure that the Press Law and other related legal documents are strictly implemented?
The ministry has asked all Vietnamese media offices to strictly abide by the Press Law and related legal documents. All letters of introduction for a staff member to go on a mission outside the office should have the signature of the editor-in-chief or the deputy editor-in-chief.
In the near future, the Ministry of Information and Communications will revise Circular 07/2007 on the renewal of expired press cards and issuance of new ones.
The ministry has also asked the departments of Information and Communications in cities and provinces to increase their monitoring activities towards ensuring strict enforcement of the Press Law.