Before investigating the effect of Internet on mass communication in the Vietnamese newspaper industry, it is necessary to review current literature on the topic for previous empirical evidence, reported histories and examples, as well as dominating theories employed to explain these findings. The review gives the readers of this research a general understanding of the examined topic in the global context for later comparison with the case of Vietnam. For the researcher (student), the review first provides hints about what to expect for the Vietnam’s case given the most frequently found evidence and most accepted theories about the new media, new mass communication and the impact of the Internet on the print industry. It also allows the researcher to discover the common and widely accepted research methods of previous researchers to adopt, as well as the flaws in literature that this project can fill in.
The structure of this chapter is as follow: first, brief definitions for mass media and mass communication are present, before moving to the first part (2.1) of new mass media and mass communication under the Internet’s impact. The new mass communication is two-way (interactive) with high participation of users or communities once seen only as news receivers (rather than news senders). The new mass media has become converged where the boundary between media companies (news, television, radio broadcasters) is blur or non-existing with new content source, distribution and platforms (especially the social networking sites). The following part (2.2) is more news-specific, describing the newspaper industry in the era of Internet and new, converged media. Substantial changes in the industry in the past decade have led to the suspicion of the end of traditional journalism (in 2.2.1). Disruption theory and Resources-Processes-Values framework to explain the needs for business model changes, creation of new capabilities, and the ways to do so successfully are present in (2.2.2) The role of the internet and modern information and communication technologies (ICT) as change agents in the industry is present (in 2.2.3). Facing the challenges, adapters have some stories to tell in (2.2.4). For the Vietnam case, the difficulties brought about by the Internet and advanced technologies as in (2.2.1) will be verified, the activities taken by international newspapers will be searched for to check Vietnamese newspapers’ transition effort, while the Disruption theory and its RPV framework is used to provide some recommendations to Vietnamese news.
With the extermination of the authoritarian and the formation of the democratic regime through popular revolution and deep reforms in human societies, mass communication has found EXPLAIN MORE CLEARLY its great significance (Campbell et al., 2011). In this context, recently, mass communication tools SUCH AS… have played a central role FOR the democratic functionalities WHICH ONES?, where collected information BY WHO? is assessed before being distributed to the mass audience (the public). Traditional mass communication with its ability to disseminate messages to large audiences, is often managed by a handful of enterprises, and often used to transfer ideas or report information for their self-interest (including the interference of politicians and the authorities). Members of societies all over the world are receivers of information from these media companies. Dominick (2010) provided a definition of mass media as one that has the following conditions: statements and public declarations (without special or limited contacts); with technical broad casting tools (media); in an indirect way (it means in a spatial or temporal distance – a time between the speaker and the listener); to be presented unilateral (meaning without exchanging conversation between speakers and listeners) to the audience.
Under the impact of the Internet and modern ICTs, the traditional one-way mass communication no longer suffices, and the face of mass media has also changed substantially in terms of content, audience, and distribution. The mainstream media business model that used to be linear with a few number of media professionals deciding which information to diffuse to the public and the public as purely receivers no longer exists (Forbes, 2016). The news industry, as a sector in mass media, has seen the same changes. With new platforms and the Internet, the quantity of independent providers of news ill-reported or unreported by mass news companies and their followers have been increasing (Dolata & Schrape, 2015), but this is just one change to the industry.
Recently, mass communication has been done through tools known as social networks (Hanson, 2015). Previously in traditional mass media, news was not obtained from or diffused on internet networks, but this is now possible because of new technical capabilities. Information in this type of mass media was also obtained from specific persons (contacts) and carefully filtered/ assessed before being broadcasted. Information collectors and media workers are thus a few in traditional mass media.
On the other hands, there is no limitation for Internet users to send and receive information within their networks; they are simultaneously senders and receivers (Dominick, 2010). With the rise of new platforms of social media (with tools such as web blog, social networks, forums and news websites, to name a few), those who have long been on the receiving end of one-way mass communication now have the capability to become producers and transmitters of information/ content, making it increasingly difficult to distinguish between media (professional) workers and users (Creeber and Martin, 2008). It is expected that user empowerment in the new media world will increase, facilitated by networked digital communication. This situation warrants the essential adjustments towards media hegemony theory (towards converged media).
In accordance to Tafazzoli and Bayat (2015), new mass media consists of the following features: distribution speed; distribution order; borderless and constant distribution; learning and audience coverage; accessing to the judgment and mass audience arbitration; easy access and minimal cost for gatherings, especially the political and social ones.
For Biagi (2011), the new mass media is characterized by its most revolutionary aspect in the long run, which is user (audience) empowerment in creating and distributing content. Mass media news outlets have struggled with the changes of gatekeeping standard because of needs for interactive contents produced by audiences themselves. While ordinary citizens are being held to high standard towards the qualities of information and the values of communities, they are also empowered in reporting their political experiences. To explore the distinction and complementarity between new mass media and mainstream mass media, it is a must in understanding the technical distinction among a wide range of media forms (Salman et al., 2011).
Comparing the two traditional (old) and new mass media from the point of Li (2013), mainstream mass media is generally highly centralized, requiring significant investment and resources and heavily influenced by its owners and the governments via a wide range of controlling mechanisms and forms. On the contrary, the new or alternative mass media have radically exposed very different characteristics. With the use of the Internet, the new media can be referred both to mass communication and message distribution. In comparison to the traditional mass media, they are in the forms of extreme decentralization, requiring low investment but providing much greater interaction and public participation. Thus, it is relatively difficult to control such type of mass media. Accordingly, one should not be surprised when the new mass media has recently gained its popularity and acceptance among civil societies. With new platforms, people now have freedom and opportunities in creating their own news and also getting their hands on other sides of a story with Internet-based news that can no way be controlled (Newman, 2011). The prominent characteristics of the new media stated by Li (2013) are thus cost, censorship (controlling) and ownership of information, and public participation in creating and distributing content.
Deuze (2004) looked at institutional characteristics of converged media to define this type. The media of convergence for journalism starts when journalistic and non-journalistic media companies develop partnerships and exchange in news creation and distribution; their projects and marketing strategies become cross-media. The keywords of multimedia journalism are ‘interactivity’, ‘collaboration’, and ‘participation’. Aside from the impact of the Internet, media convergence in the U.S in the 1990s was also caused by the wave of foreign investment, cross-media acquisitions, and transnational ownership in the news industry.
Berman et al. (2007) is among the studies most widely-referred to for business models for media companies in the Internet’s era, where the authors distinguish the new, converged media with old media by three factors: content source, distribution, and device platforms. At different levels of these three factors, new media companies (including ones in the print industry) are divided into four types with distinctive business models. According to Berman et al. (2007), the four types co-exist nowadays and in the mid-term, while they will be combined to create unique models for media companies in the future; future media companies thus are expected to have business models that vary significantly according to their strengths and weaknesses.
The characteristics of the four models in terms of three core factors of new media, naming content source, distribution and device platforms are as follow:
- Traditional media: professional-created content, distribution (access) with conditions (‘walled access’) and dedicated devices. Mass media companies follow this model the most today.
- Walled communities: user or community-created content, walled distribution, and dedicated devices. This is traditional media with a subsidiary where content is contributed by the public rather than professionals.
- Content hyper-syndication: professional-created content, open access, without dedicated devices (platforms).
- New platform aggregation: user-generated content, open distribution and open platforms. This is the most disruptive model of new media as compared to traditional media, with no control or involvement of media professionals and companies. YouTube and Live Journal, the platforms totally user-driven, would be considered into this model.
What the new media of convergence is, and the differences between its attributes and the ones of the traditional media are already mentioned in the last part; media convergence forms and effects, however, are separately discussed here as they are very important to create a conceptual framework for this research. Based on theories on convergence forms and effects, the research questions about the evolution of Vietnamese news organizations can be answered via the convergence forms they have undergone and what effects they have recognized in the process.
In existing literature, the forms of convergence appearing in media companies are quite various according to the specific researchers, but some common ways of categorization are seen anyway, with some being widely accepted. This is because there are several definitions for convergence, and convergence is multi-dimensional. For example, media convergence forms caused by digitization are divided into three levels: at the technological level (seen from communication systems), the content level (cultural forms), and the economic level (Murdock, 2000). The categorization of Jenkins (2001) is equally popular, in which media convergence has five aspects, which are technological, organic, economic, cultural, and global convergence. Starting from 2012, Stanchak (2010) and Schepke (2012) suggest the use of two more convergences such as a combination of paid, owned and earned content, and social media convergence, in terms of platforms used, and related content by the media organizations. The former form refers to content sources, while the latter form refers to a combination of traditional media and social media. One of such combination, for instance, is when social media shares content originally from news sites (that may originate or develop from paper newspapers), and let the information flow continue with online readers’ comments and discussion (in Twitter, Facebook or Youtube etc.) – this is called the social media convergence.
According to Dupagne & Garrison (2006) and Kolodzy (2006), despite the variety of convergence forms, the following three types are commonly accepted to be the primary ones: technical (technological), economic (industrial/ market), and regulatory convergences in media. They are also in aforementioned categorizations by Murdock (2000), Jenkins (2001), and Stanchak (2010). REPHRASE Come with these three forms are the convergence effects, and all is seen in Figure 1.
Figure 1 – Convergence primary forms and effects – Source?
* Technical (technological) convergence
The technical (technological) convergence is the convergence of communication systems (Murdock, 2000). In the digital evolution, the increasing use of digital devices reduced the gap between different media industries, such as the combinations of press and telephone when (a) customers receive news headlines in their text messages and/or (b) when people can download from online websites or with a mobile application books/ news articles to read in their mobile phones; these are all examples of technical convergence. This form is defined by Vallath (2000) as the combination, all-become-one of media communication divisions to become one digital form.
* Economic (market, industrial) convergence
Convergence is not in the technical aspect only, but also in the social and economic aspects (European Commission’s Green Paper of 1997, cited in Dupagne & Guerrison, 2006); it changed the way people interact and firms do business. According to Aaron et al. (2002), two types of economic convergence are seen, which are user-oriented convergence, and institutional economic convergence. The convergence is user-oriented when multiple services such as text news, videos, T.V programs, and internet access are all offered to customers in one platform. The institutional one is the use of multiple platforms for (the same) information piece by one media organization. The economic benefit is realized when information is shared and presented cross-platforms, increasing advertising revenues. Some of the most used economic convergences at the institutional level are cross-promotion (or cross-platform promotion), and shared resources and information (Killebrew, 2005). An example of cross-platform promotion is when a film produced or distributed by a media company is advertised also on the company’s newspapers and websites (in the form of promotional interviews, backstage photos, cover, or film reviews). Examples of shared resources and information include multimedia story-telling, the joint work of journalists and T.V and radio reporters in reporting and production of a certain topic, etc.
As summarized by Kolodzy (2006), institutional economic convergence in the form of mergers and acquisitions among firms in different media divisions (cross-media acquisitions) in practice is not easy due to the differences among the companies in work and management practices.
* Regulatory convergence
There are full and partial regulatory convergences, which are quite different (Kolodzy, 2006). Partial one refers to regulations that allow media companies to conduct technological or economic convergences. Full regulatory convergence is much larger in scope, referring to the unification of laws for different media industries, in order to have a single legal framework for all media. So far no such full regulatory convergence has been achieved in any nation as predicted by scholars of early 1990s. Even with same service offer, different media companies in different media sectors are still regulated dissimilarly. The issue of which media industry to triumph and control the other industries when having a single regulatory framework is thus not yet answered both in theory and in practice.
* Convergence effects
Convergence effects can be categorized into content diversity, curriculum structure, media use, and newsroom practices (for all media generally, and the news industry in specific), according to Dupagne & Guerrison (2006). These themes are seen repeatedly in any analysis of media convergence in all media industries by prior researchers. For example, in Deuze (2004; 2008), and in Drula (2015); in the empirical case of Drula (2015), the content analysis is conducted with themes such as content diversity (characteristics of multimedia stories including topic categories and content sources, participation and interaction of users/ community in content), media use (platforms used and the partnership in media), and newsroom practices. According to Kolodzy (2006), convergence effects are not end-results are convergence is continuous (which is also proposed by Jenkins, 2001); for the media landscape of a country, convergence effects are the changes undergone by media organizations in the evolution process. According to Kanyany & Yelsma (2000), the effects can vary by medium and communication system.
Newsroom practices as convergence effects are discussed already in (2.2.1) below about changes in workplace practices and roles of professions in the news industry. Regarding content diversity, the issue of media cross-ownership on coverage bias, quality, and output is often discussed. Pritchard (2002) found that under the same owner, newspaper coverage can be different from television coverage about the same information/ issue. Spavins et al. (2002), meanwhile, found that television stations that own newspapers have different information coverage and are more successful (based on the awards they obtained) than ones without newspapers; the ones owning newspapers tend to cover more local news and public affairs programmes. Curriculum structure is often referred to as the new requirements for journalism (in specific)/ media (in general) education. With media convergence and new skills required for professionals in media, the curricula for mass media have to be updated to focus on cross-media teaching also (Lowrey et al., 2005). The impact of the internet on media in one country can be indirectly seen if schools update their curricula to provide students with cross-media skill set.
A summary of the media convergence forms and effects will construct this project’s conceptual framework to evaluate the internet’s impact on media for the Vietnam case.
Summarise key points you’ve made so far and explain how they prepare the ground for the next section, etc. This part is further divided into four sub-categories to describe the full picture of the newspaper industry under the impact of the Internet and modern ICTs. The categories are (in this order): substantial changes in the industry and the suspicion for death of traditional journalism; internet and modern information and communication technologies (ICTs) as change agents of the industry; success stories of adapters in the print media; and future and recommendations for the news industry in the converged media.
* Difficulties: less readership and plunged advertising revenue
Ha and Fang (2012) believed that the perfect storms of the global economic crisis has driven the challenges faced by conventional media, particularly, newspaper industry as it has dwindling readership and advertising dollars along with the inabilities of newspapers in monetizing their online efforts. For example, the loss of the lion’s shares of classified advertisement to the Internet has been reported by many newspapers, especially those operated in the West and the USA. Starting after the World War II, specialization in journalism has considerably developed ever since, to gradually outperform mass content (born during the Industrial Revolution of 1912) in sales and audience preference; consequently, it has become the focus for newspapers, whose advertising revenue (mostly via classified advertisement) accounted for 40% of advertising gains in 2000 from 18% in 1950 (Meyer, 2008). The appearance of online, considerably cheaper or free classified ad sites with Craiglist a notable example, has robbed essential ad-based revenue from newspapers indeed. A depressed economy can worsen this situation by forcing more readers to cancel their subscriptions of the newspapers’ channels and more business firms to cut their advertising budgets as part of plans to reduce overhead expenses (Gaskins and Jerit, 2012).
Such problems are confirmed in the reports of Mitchell (2014) for the U.S, and Grueskin et al. (2011) globally for the news industry. Mitchell (2014) saw a 49% decrease of advertising revenue for American newspaper in 2013 as compared to 2003 (even when niche and non-daily publications are included in 2003’s revenue). The decline rate of print advertising revenue was more rapid than television, though television’s one is also endangered by increasing online-accessible videos. Though some additional revenue streams have been generated by newspapers, such as digital subscription or donation, they are still far from being equal to the ones paid by advertisers. Grueskin et al. (2011a) also stated that the ‘adjacency’ formula for newspaper companies (advertisement sold next to content in their papers) has gone and the new revenue streams have not been big enough to cover the loss.
* The suspicion for the end of traditional journalism
The Guardian (2016) argued about the end of mass media and traditional journalism for the new one of personalisation and social media. The journal believed that this is one of the reasons why British print newspapers, once big players of mass marketing, are losing their attractiveness to readers and advertisers; their ‘one-size-fits-all’ product with ‘one-way-fits-all’ distribution and their view of readers as ‘mass audience’ are on blame.
The new media convergence not only led to changes in newspaper companies’ business models, but also substantial changes in the role and responsibility of journalists, in organisational structure and working place of newsprint companies. For some such as Majoribanks (2013), such changes can be beneficial for the industry, but for others such as Bromley (referenced in Cook and Sirkkunen, 2012), this is the end of journalism. Majoribanks (2013) argued that news coherence and fluid work flow are achieved when different media organisations converge their activities via shared news agendas or common budget systems, for instance. The new journalist or media workers become flexible, movable and armed with multiple new skills. In terms of the workplace, new technologies now allows journalists or reporters to be their own ‘one-man-team’, sending news back to the workplace from far away, working simultaneously as a writer, video taker and editor, and photographer. In contrast, such a transformation to journalists and newsrooms is considered the end to traditional journalism (Cook & Sirkkunen, 2012). Bromley views such changes in work organization and journalist’s role as efforts to reduce cost, employ less for more workloads for newspapers houses; the culprit to make journalists stick to computers for 24/7 news; and the factor undervalue journalism’s basic skills and standards.
Whether traditional journalism has reached its end is still a debatable matter with mixed voices heard among scholars and news professionals, but recent researchers such as Jinglei (2012) and Drula (2015) (among others) agree that traditional journalism is not dead, only its forms and practices have changed. Many of the existing online news sites frequently obtain their content from printed news. Also, the participation of users (communities) in content creation and sharing, losing identity of journalism professionals, and the cross-media use can be both good and bad. Information pollution can happen in this digital era when users are overloaded with information in the platforms; some of such information can be false, useless, or redundant. Editors’ and journalists’ choices and views may help by pointing out the quality information. Furthermore, even with the development of the Internet, with their reputation and ability to reach the mass audience, Hanson (2015) and Jeffres (2015) believe in the continuous importance and necessity of mainstream media (including news); The Internet and mobile services are not necessary approachable in poor/ under-developed areas, for example.
* Turning to new mass media without proper practices can be problematic as much
In a hurry to employ digital platforms for the hope of getting back audience and (consequently) advertising revenue, newspaper publishers can be in deeper troubles than expected without proper social media strategies. Grueskin et al. (2011b) argued that audience size is always vital to please advertisers, but increased audience size or traffic on the web should not be considered success or the target for newspaper publishers; rather, to appeal to advertisers in the long-term, audience engagement, shown by the amount of time and attention that the audience spends on the newspaper website, is more important. Such audience engagement should be the core factor in the publishers’ business model, as it facilitates other non-advertising sources, reducing the dependence on advertisers by the newspapers. Unfortunately, what Grueskin et al. (2011b) have quite often witnessed is news sites’ race for mass audience via high investment on search engine optimization (so that the newspaper’s headlines appear more on the Google’s result page for instance).
Seeing bigger audience and website traffic over long-term audience commitment can also be damaging to the newspapers’ journalism quality, as argued by Mitchell (2014). Such a race for mass audience not only brings ‘fat audience, thin revenue’ rather than committed, stable audience and potentially bigger revenue, but also can make the newspapers trade quality content for cheap tactics such as celebrity photos. The newspaper’s brand is degraded, leaving long-term negative effect on their reader engagement. Instead, to exploit new media platforms, the companies can create their Facebook pages, and/or update news via Twitter to attract more loyal readers (than using search engines and cheap tactics). This has actually been applied by several online news organizations.
Disruption in the traditional industry facilitated by the Internet is the reason why many industry analysts believe in a coming end for traditional newspaper, like what happened to other industries when disruptive innovations appeared (Karimi & Walter, 2015b). In fact, the development of the Internet (and its facilitated new platforms), computer use and communication devices have resulted in the convergence of (cheap) digital information, which has considerably changed all aspects of everyday life for people and businesses, not limited to the newspaper industry. The five digital forces leading to the convergence include globalization, millenialization, prosumerization, business virtualization, and platformization (Gimpel & Westerman, 2012). Still, effects of the convergence of digital information are the most disruptive and significant for the media (including newspaper) industry (Karimi & Walter, 2015b).
Section (2.2.1) provides some mistakes that newspapers made when coping up with disruption in the industry, but even without such mistakes, failures to adapt to the new converged environment are plenty; that is why section (2.2.4) is dedicated to the successful adapters. The common reason for such failures is the replication of print business model online by newspapers, including generating revenue by selling ad space to usual advertisers (American Press Institute, 2008); the replication obviously did not stop the drop in print circulation, advertising revenue, and profit. Likewise, a study of reactions to disruptions in several industries has led Christensen (2006) to conclude that unchanged business models, rather than technology, caused adaptation failures. Business model has various definitions, but its general concept is the set of activities conducted by firms to generate revenue; the ability to construct a disruption-adaptive business model separates adaptation successes from failures (Karimi & Walter, 2015a). Easier said than done, following disruption-adaptive business models can be challenging to firms due to its high cost (as compared with sustaining goods/ services). The high cost stems from higher risk (financing, customers’ acceptance etc.), smaller returns and/or longer time to gain great commercial profits, and risk to negatively affect sales of the firms’ current products (Christensen, 2006). Moreover, while requiring new technology, disruptive products (services) may offer lower profit margin than current ones with already-owned technology (Chesbrough, 2010). Still, it is utmost important to adopt a business model innovation to deal with challenges posed by disruption while seizing opportunities it brings (including brand new products/ services) (Lucas, 2012).
Various advices have been given to traditional newspapers regarding the adaptation to digital disruption in the industry, which are generalized by American Press Institute (2008) to three core points, for example: adopting new digital platforms, creating digital solutions to news, social networking and information, and applying various online revenue models that are not advertisement-based. It is indispensable to mention here the Disruptive Innovation Theory (with a Resources-Processes-Values framework – RPV), as it helps firms evaluate their strengths and weaknesses to cope up with disruptive innovations. Applicable to all industries, the theory can also be used to explain the success or failures of news firms in responding to critical changes in the industry (Christensen & Raynor, 2003).
The RPV framework posits that the creation of a new set of capabilities in a company after disruptive technological changes happen in its industry is dependent on the company’s (intrinsic) Resources, Processes, and Values (Lavie, 2006). ‘Capabilities’ is the key term in this framework. In normal conditions, the company operates with ordinary capabilities (also called operational capabilities), which is at zero level. Organizational ordinary capabilities is a set of routines, whose combination with inputs gives the company various options regarding a production of its goods (services). When (often technological) disruption occurs in the industry, it causes new, alternative ways of doing the company’s activities and new ways of earning profits. The gap between the company’s current capability mechanism and the new one in the industry, available after the disruption(s) is the capability gap, which urges the company to develop a new set of capabilities. Dynamic capabilities is a set of contrasting capabilities to ordinary capabilities, which relate to specialized resources and can monitor changes in ordinary capabilities. Theoretically, dynamic capabilities may several levels, but in practice, the maximum is second-order level (Winter, 2003). To adapt to environment changes, first-order dynamic capabilities can modify ordinary capabilities; when this is not enough, second-order capabilities are developed by the company to respond promptly to unusual conditions (Daniel et al., 2014). Resources-Processes-Values are determinants of first-order dynamic capabilities (Vogel & Guttel, 2013), thus are also determinants for a company’s adaptation to disruption.
The Disruptive Innovation theory and RPV framework have recently been employed to explain successful examples, and guide news organizations in their response to disruption in the industry. According to Gilbert et al. (2012), late studies all agree that newspapers’ core business must adapt to the new disruptive (converged) market, while business model innovations must be adopted to create new revenue sources that are not contradicting to core business; in order to do so, capability exchange is necessary. Advices to disruptive business models for news companies based on the RPV framework in current literature are summarized in Table 1.
|Determinants for first-order dynamic capabilities||Dimension||Previous findings|
|Resources (what a company has)||Dedicated financial resources||Financial resources should be dedicated to digital disruption in journalism to develop the potential of innovative ideas (Innosight, 2009), even when marginal profit is small at first for newspapers|
|Dedicated human resources||Human resources should also be distributed to noncore business to develop their potential|
|Senior management support||This is necessary to show the newspaper’s support to innovation (beneficial to its innovation-nurtured culture), while facilitating innovative practices among employees and innovative idea creation among experienced managers (Havelka & Lee, 2002)
This means improvement for core products and discovery of growth opportunities for noncore products by senior managers
|Processes (what a company does)||Staged allocations of resources||This requires innovation team to focus on most important ideas, find cheap and flexible way to test them.
This also helps avoid making too risky (big) investments on innovations with high uncertainty for newspapers by distributing small investment to several potential ideas (Anthony et al., 2007)
|Autonomous growth group||To find out innovative/ new processes.
This is extremely important to avoid using old processes for new idea/ opportunities (Kim & Steven, 1992; Markides & Oyon, 2010)
|Values (culture differences among companies, which distinguish a company from others)||Innovative culture||This is necessary to foster innovation in the company: innovative ideas and behaviours are encouraged, accepted and committed to.|
|Common language||Using a common language that is innovation-supportive, the shared perspective can strengthen the ability to innovate in the company
For newspapers, common language is illustrated by using repeatedly terms such as ‘invest a little, learn a lot’ (Higgins & McAllaster, 2002). This way, some common traps can be avoided in new journalism, including the target for perfection, and overinvestment.
|Multimedia mind set||This is needed for the transition to multi-platform practices in journalism.
This mind set must happen to all staff, pushing them to find new ways to serve customers (new products/ services, pricing, and distribution).
Table 1 – A summary of advices for news organization in a disruptive market based on Resources-Processes-Values framework (Sources: Adapted from Walter, 2010; Smith, 2011, etc)
The Internet and Internet-enabled products such as Google, aside from Internet-based and mobile-based information and communication technologies (ICTs), have often been regarded as the change agents of the mainstream media.
The possibility for the Internet and modern ICTs to change the face of mass media via the impact on the demand and supply curves of media products has already been proposed by researchers as early as a decade ago (Anderson, 2006). Given the expensive content creation in traditional news (and traditional mass media in general), only the biggest events (information) are reported, aiming at a large or mass audience. With the low cost and wide availability of the Internet and its tools, content can be created and distributed digitally to save cost, especially to reach niche audience. The supply curve is thus changed, and once the products are recognized and liked by the niche audience, the demand curve for media products also changes to become flatter with more products for all types of audience.
As reported by McNair (2016), major giants in the newspaper industry have pointed their fingers at Google regarding the fact that it now has a great power to force the newspaper industries out of businesses. Accusations have been hurled at search engine giants by publishers like Sir David Bell who critically accused Yahoo and Google of “stealing” their contents published on newspapers. Media mogul Rupert Murdoch also made similar allegations. Supporting this view, News Corp’s chief raised a question whether newspaper companies should continue letting Google steal their copyrights. Tribune Company likewise claimed that American newspapers have allowed Google to use their contents for nothing but making profits for Google solely.
Google has viewed such claims as unfounded and suggested such developments have nothing to do with its business. It is the Internet which has posed the threats to the traditional models of newspaper operation, rather (Yen, 2010). Google even further indicated that its search engines do not harm the industry, but helping increase traffic to the websites of newspaper companies instead. As its respect to the copyright laws, Google News presents only the headlines and the contents are linked to the stories provided by the websites of the online newspapers. The loss of the newspapers in printing revenue should illustrate the shift in consumer behavior in getting their news as they tend to get their news and information online now. The fault is Google’s or not, Grueskin et al. (2011b) agreed that technology and the Internet are disruptive factors to media in general, and journalism in specific as they fade away the professional identity and copyrights of media companies; the two losses are made when audience leave traditional media for community-generated contents on the Internet, that is quite likely to copy and edit from professional-made content.
Along with the so-called loss of earnings from copyrighted contents, advertising dollars were also not forth coming because of the budget tightening of the public (audience and business) through the economic slowdown. Consequently, much of newspaper classified advertisement has been lost due to the rise of the Internet (Gaskins and Jerit, 2012). Consequently, there was widespread closure or bankruptcy of newspapers, and job and salary deduction in the newspaper industry.
However, it is worth to mention several success stories such as The New York Times and the Washington Post, who have been able to weather the storms and remain resilient with their digital newspapers. Tafazzoli and Bayat (2015) argued that these successes have been feasible mainly because the two have separated their online news websites from the core (printed) newspaper operation and build their own new market with their own new sources of revenues. More generally speaking, as advised by the Disruption innovation theory and the RPV framework, successful adapters have come up with innovative business models to adapt to the disrupted market, resulting in disrupted journalism.
The aspect frequently talked about in new business models is revenue sources: success stories often involve proactive exploitation of opportunities in the new media landscape with new media platforms. According to Mitchell (2014)’s report of U.S journalism, the industry has annual revenue of $60 billion, and ad-generated one continues to contribute the most until now (two-third). Audience revenue (subscription and paid-for content) accounts for a quarter, and is increasing. Other new revenue streams have appeared, including event hosting and web-consulting (7%), and venture capital and philanthropy (1%). The contribution of the new streams may be limited for now, but they illustrate anyway newspapers’ effort to seize opportunities and find new income differently from ad-based ones (Grueskin et al., 2011). Meanwhile, the use of multiple digital platforms can strengthen newspapers’ brands with their appearance now on more channels, and/or via cross-media promotion (including mobile advertisement) (Feldman, 2002).
Grueskin et al. (2011) offered a case study of Houston Chronicle as a newspaper successfully creating new revenue stream; most surprisingly, the company does not rely heavily on ads in its print or online news versions to survive. Instead, it earns more from a consulting business, selling services such as web design or improving businesses’ ranking on search engines. Customers’ advertisements still appear on the newspaper’s news site, but also on Google or Bing search. Houston Chronicle assesses the customers’ websites, gives advices to improve their rankings, and the customers’ press release written by the newspaper is also shown on its online news site. In return, the newspaper earn from the one-year contract with customers (at $500 a month or more). Up to 2011, Houston Chronicle has received $2.5 million in contract from 500 businesses, just four months after launching this consulting business. Wire (New York) and The Atlantic (Massachusetts) are other examples, this time as event hosting providers; The Atlantic can run up to 75 events of all types per year. Wire does events for advertisers such as “Geek Dad Family Party” for stores of gadgets, others for winter sport equipment and fashion brands. The Atlantic does more cross-media promotion than that, and it has Atlantic LIVE as a separate office to focus on event hosting. The magazine earns from event organizing, as well as writing about the events where related advertisers are mentioned (such as mentioning wedding dress shops in an article for marriage-themed events); the article is published on print and/or online site of The Atlantic. The new business model seems to work well, as $6 million out of The Atlantic’s $32 million in 2011 was earned from these events. Meanwhile, it was about platformization for The New York Times (Ziv, 2009). The newspaper has renovated its core business by allowing for co-creation with customers, and collaborated with mobile technology companies (Apple/iPhone, Blackberry) to improve its mobile platform (both in-house and outsourced). Readers can access to The New York Times’ mobile-version, and furthermore, receive SMS messages containing news from their favourite section in the newspaper (including sport news, weather, and breaking headlines).
When implementing the internet to news-making processes, the newspapers in Vietnam have to make considerable changes and consequently may undergo various forms of convergence. To examine the impact of the internet on the industry, illustrated by the convergence forms the newspapers may have undergone, and the convergence effects they may have witnessed, this conceptual framework is constructed. Its construction is based on the previous literature summary, and following this framework will result in answers to this project’s research questions (convergence forms taken, convergence effects experienced by Vietnamese newspapers and some recommendations for their evolution based on convergence stories worldwide).
Figure 2 – Conceptual framework for evolutions of the newspaper industry in Vietnam (Source?)
Chapter 3. Research methods – this needs more elaboration, you need to explain what were the themes in common which highlight the impact of the internet on newspapers across the various types of secondary sources that you consulted
The methods implemented to conduct this project are described in this part, focusing on the research approach, the dataset, data collection techniques and data analysis methods.
The selected research approach for this study is qualitative, using secondary data about Vietnamese newspaper organizations. Being secondary, the data is available for all researchers and research purposes, which can be collected from sources such as public media (newspaper, magazines, T.V programs, brochures online and offline), and database (Bureau of statistics nationally and locally, websites of the ministry of culture and communication, universities of journalism in Vietnam etc.). Qualitative approach is the widely-implemented approach in previous studies of media convergence processes for the richness of data and for in-depth analysis. Group interviews with professionals working in the news industry are also seen as a complementary data collection method in previous remarkable studies, for the purpose of understanding more or confirming observations of researchers. However, it is impossible to employ this data collection method in this project due to the student (researcher)’s time and resource constraints, as well as the geographical distance between the U.K and Vietnam; furthermore, the difficulty to find qualified interviewees cannot be ignored. Indeed, one disadvantage of the interview method (in survey strategy) is the difficulty to find interviewees who know the examined issue well and who agree to participate in the interview (Saunders et al., 2012).
Following prior researchers with prominent papers about media convergence (including one of the news industry), data analysis is carried out by using a content analysis method. In this method, determining criteria of a coding scheme is utmost important (Drula, 2015). Such coding scheme can be constructed based on the project’s conceptual framework, which also resembles the way the scheme is designed and studies are conducted by previous researchers regarding the evolution in the media landscape of other countries. Thus, the content analysis of the Vietnamese newspaper organizations will have two parts to focus on, which are respectively convergence forms (technological, economic, and regulatory), and convergence effects (content diversity, media use, newsroom practices, and curriculum changes); the curriculum changes are examined mostly by considering recent, digitization-related changes in universities of journalism in the country. Each part can then have smaller themes, such as partnerships in the media and IT industries, characteristics of multimedia stories, variety of platforms used, participation and interaction by/with users in news websites, as seen from Drula (2015); newsroom practices can have smaller themes such as converged roles of professionals (journalists, reporters, …) in newsroom, culture, management style, and converged working place, for example (as seen from Deuze, 2004). Graphs, screenshots and photos are used to illustrate findings from this analysis.
The potential data set for this project is quite broad, which contains all newspaper (and magazines) organizations in Vietnam. According to Vietnamnet (2017), there are 857 print newspapers and magazines, 125 digital newspapers, and 227 social networking sites in the country. For each theme of the content analysis This needs a specific explanation of what you analysed – what you mean by “content analysis”, because it is impossible due to time constraint or too many examples, priority should be put on the Top newspapers/ magazines (online and offline) with the highest views and reputation. The actual dataset of this project is thus comprised of these most popular, highly-ranked news providers (see Table 2). They include the Top 10 paper (printed) newspapers of Vietnam (10hay.com, 2016), and the Top 10 digital/ electronic news websites of Vietnam (toplist.vn, 2016); some of the biggest newspapers in the country, such as Lao Dong, Thanh Nien, and Tuoi Tre are named in both lists (marked by an italic format).
|Rank||Printed newspapers/ magazines||Digital news websites|
|1||Nhan Dan (‘The people’)||Dantri.com.vn (VN-English)|
|2||Ha Noi Moi (‘New Hanoi’)||Vnexpress.net (VN-English)|
|3||An Ninh Thu Do (‘The capital’s security’)||Vietnamnet.vn (VN-English)|
|4||Cong An TP Ho-Chi-Minh (‘Police of Ho-Chi-Minh’s city’)||Nhandan.com.vn (VN-English-Chinese-French)|
|5||Doi Song & Phap Luat (‘Life and Law’)||Tuoitre.vn|
|6||Nguoi Lao Dong (‘The worker’)||Laodong.com.vn|
|7||Lao Dong (‘Labour’)||Doisongphapluat.com|
|8||Thanh Nien (‘Young People’)||Thanhnien.vn|
|9||Tuoi Tre (‘Youth’)||Vov.vn (VN-English)|
|10||Tien Phong (‘Pioneer’)||Baomoi.com|
(The magazines/ newspapers’ names translated into English are in an italic format)
Table 2 – A list of Top 10 printed and Top 10 digital newspapers/ magazines/ news sites examined in this project
4. Results and analysis
In this section, the impact of the Internet on Vietnam’s newspaper industry is revealed though an in-depth analysis of the evolution of Vietnam’s newspaper What exactly was this in-depth analysis? organizations caused by the Internet and its resultant innovative information and communication technologies (ICTs). A content analysis is employed, based on the conceptual framework constructed in this project’s methodology, in order to investigate the changes in the newspapers in terms of convergence forms (technological, economic, and regulatory convergences), and convergence effects (content diversity, media used, newsroom practices, and curriculum structure). Such a convergence-based analysis for journalism’s evolution follows recent works including Dupagne & Guerrison (2006), and Drula (2015). This is the main content of this section, while the first section (4.1) also provides an overview of Vietnam’s journalism and the needs and demand for digitalization in the industry; this is to provide a research setting and general understanding of the country’s journalism to readers, especially when a similar study of new newspaper industry in Vietnam (like this project) is lacking. After the convergence-centered analysis in which the Internet’s influences on Vietnamese newspaper industry are present (in sections 4.2 and 4.3), section (4.4) refers to the Disruptive Innovation Theory and its Resources-Processes-Values framework. As already said in earlier sections, this RPV framework can help distinguish and explain why some newspapers succeeded amid others’ failures in a converging media landscape (Gilbert et al., 2002; Daniel et al., 2014), but its application in this project’s analysis of Vietnam’s newspapers is limited as its elements requires primary data while secondary data is lacking. Still, its inclusion in section (4.4) is to provide Vietnamese news-makers with some recommendations about how to digitalize their practices successfully, given their RPV elements. Finally, the section closes with a discussion about findings for convergence forms and effects in Vietnam’s journalism, as compared with movements and development in global journalism when facing with a convergent media landscape.
4.1. An overview of Vietnam’s newspaper industry and demand for digitalization – EXPLAIN CLEARLY WHAT RELATIONSHIP THERE IS BETWEEN THE INFORMATION BELOW AS INDICATION OF THE INTERNET’S IMPACT ON NEWSPAPERS
A country media report by PwC (2012) reveals impressive development of Vietnam’s entertainment and media market in the past years, in parallel and fuelled considerably by an equally rapidly developing market for wired and mobile internet (Figure 3 and 4). In 2007, the Internet market of Vietnam had the least value in the region, at US$ 284 million; in just five years, the value has grown to US$ 2,574 million in 2011, at an annual development rate of 50% to 120%, which was not seen in any of the resting countries. Other countries with similar ranks as Vietnam in 2007 such as New Zealand, Pakistan, and Philippines all had very stable and modest growth rate for the Internet market. From the list closer, Vietnam climbed up 7 places in the chart after just half a decade. The same rapid development was recorded for the country’s entertainment and media market. Starting with a value much smaller than others in the region (US$ 757 millions) while others were valued at more than US$ 2,000 at least, Vietnam proved itself as a prosperous playground for companies in this industry when the value climbed up to more than US$ 3,000 after five years; such a growth enabled Vietnam to outnumber Pakistan and closely reach the levels of Singapore, New Zealand and Philippines. Like with the Internet market, entertainment and media market has grown up to 5 times its size in this period. Such massive changes in Internet use and media market value obviously would affect the newspaper industry of Vietnam in the period and in the long-term (PwC, 2012).
Source: PwC (2012)
For the journalism industry specifically, the period of 2011-2016 was also one of growth in size, illustrated by the increases in number of newspapers, magazines, as well as journalism professionals. In the Ministry of Culture and Communication’s report for journalism of 2011-2012, Vietnam had 786 print news organizations (194 newspaper and 592 magazines), 61 digital newspapers and magazines, 191 social networking sites, and more than 1,000 consolidated news sites (where information is collected/ summarized from various newspapers). Registered journalists in Vietnam were 17,000 up to 2012 (Tinmoi, 2012). In 2015, a similar report announced 857 print news organizations (199 newspapers and 658 magazines), and the increase came from birth of more specialized newspapers/ magazines in science published by universities. On the digital side, the increase was more remarkable, with 105 online newspapers and magazines, among which 83 ones also have print versions and 22 are purely digital sites. The total number of registered journalists increased to 18,000, with more than 5,000 correspondents already working but having not satisfied conditions to be registered journalists; in total, journalism professionals were around 35,000 (up from 32,000 in 2011) (Infonet Vietnam, 2015). The same figures are seen in 2017 for print news and professional number, but digital newspapers continue to grow to 125, and 227 social networking sites (Vietnamnet, 2017).
Source: PwC (2012)
According to Nguoilambao (2016), as the operating environment (social, cultural and political) has distinctive attributes, the end of traditional journalism as suspected in the west will not come soon, and the development of the new media is still slow after 15 years (compared with the world). The decrease of print news is expected, nevertheless, with the increasing effect of globalization and use of Internet in Vietnam. Similar phenomena showing revenue and growth problems of traditional journalism have already seen, anyway. Slower economic growth globally and in Vietnam alike led to reduction in advertising revenues for newspapers starting from 2010; the revenues still increased but at much slower rates annually (Tinmoi, 2012). 3 years after, difficulty in generating revenues has growing bigger for print newspapers. While state-owned and institute-owned journals are financially aided, other types of print newspapers and magazines found it hard to make a profit; though reaching a break-even, they attracted less and less advertisements and their circulation continued to drop. This happened even to the top ones who used to enjoy high circulation in the past (Infonet, 2015); ‘Thanh Nien’ and ‘Tuoi Tre’ newspapers are notable examples with 300,000 – 500,000 circulations daily before 2008, which was reduced to more than 200,000 daily in 2015 (and continuously dropping). According to Pandora (2013), the indispensable reasons for such revenue reduction for print newspapers are the strong growth of online counterparts, including digital newspapers, social networking sites, online consolidated news sites and personal blogs. After 4 years since its entry into Vietnam, Facebook has achieved more than 5 million users and become an information source besides socializing playground. Audience segmentation is targeted clearly by digital news organizations, which is an effective strategy when 10 websites with the highest views in 2011 are social networking sites rather than ones by traditional newspapers, and sometimes news posted on them is talked about by the public more (Pandora, 2013). According to Mr. Tran Chien Thang, the deputy-minister of the Ministry of Culture and Communication, the young population of Vietnam (40% below 35 years old) are more web-connected, attracted to new technologies, and the development of the Internet and mobile use in the country have changed completely the public’s newspaper reading habit (Nguoilambao, 2016). In the context of economic slow-down, the growth of Internet users and social media communication, digitalization is demanded to print newspapers to gain back audience (and advertisement-based revenues), and increase the distribution of their information/ content (Infonet, 2015).
Digital news sites have existing in Vietnam for more than 15 years, but with earlier mentioned problems in conventional journalism recently, digitalization in journalism in Vietnam is also more discussed about lately (Cafef, 2016). Multi-platform journalism is the way to go for newspapers to approach audience on multiple channels, as only one channel (print version) is not enough; platformization of the newspapers mean their appearance on websites, mobile/ tablets and mobile applications, and social network sites (Tuoitre.vn, 2015). New way of content creation and distribution will create the core value for newspapers nowadays (Nguoilambao, 2016). Like recent researchers in global studies, traditional journalism in Vietnam is believed not to end, but it certainly has to evolve to cope up with new audience and new demands (Vietnamnet, 2017); otherwise, journalism professionals and reputational (traditional) newspapers will continue to play a pivotal role in Vietnam’s news industry for professional content quality (that is verified rigorously, made carefully, and punished heavily by law for wrongdoings – this is not much applicable to e-news) (Vietnamnet, 2017).
The evolution of Vietnam’s newspaper organizations under the Internet’s impact to deal with mentioned problems is hereafter discussed.
Briefly speaking, all three forms of convergence are seen in Vietnam’s news industry, including technological, economic and (partial) regulatory convergences. Though at different levels to the situations in other countries, with all three forms of convergence taking place, the news industry of Vietnam can be said to resemble the global trend in journalism: evolution toward convergence. Without different description, screen-cuts to illustrate convergence forms in the newspapers are from their homepages, and taken in 2017 during this project by the student.
Technological convergence in journalism refers to the partnership between news organizations and I.T companies, leading to a unification of different media. Examples of practices such as the combination between press, telephone and website when customers receive news headlines in their text messages and emails, read newspapers on their internet-connected mobile phones on web-browsers or mobile applications (Murdock, 2000) can be found among many Vietnamese newspapers that used to be solely paper-based. ‘Bao Moi’ (www.baomoi.com) is well-known for offering the first Mobile application for iOS and Android that provides readers with 24/7 information updates (Toplist, 2016), while other print newspapers have collaborated with I.T companies to develop digital versions quite early (such as ‘Lao Dong’’s e-version launch in 1999 and ‘Tuoi Tre’ in 2003); the first Vietnamese newspaper to go digital is ‘Que Huong’ in 1977, but it is managed by Vietnamese living abroad (Pandora, 2013). The print newspapers entering the digitalization movement early enough to have attracted large audience are big print names also, including ‘Lao Dong’ (5.8 million views monthly, including foreigners), ‘Tuoi Tre’ (23.5 million views monthly), and ‘Thanh Nien’ (22.4 million views monthly) (Cafef, 2016). For example, ‘Lao Dong’ has a print version, a news website that is compatible to mobile view, Facebook page, Twitter, YouTube, and Google+ accounts via which readers can access to the newspaper’s articles, register to receive notifications of news (or their favourite topics), and contribute to the newspaper directly (via commenting, sending hot news and user-generated articles) (Figure 5 and 6); it is similar for ‘Thanh Nien’, another big newspaper (Figure 7).
There are two types of economic convergence, which are user-oriented convergence (the provision of multiple services to customers in one platform), and institutional economic convergence (the use of multiple platforms for the same piece of information). User-oriented convergence is conducted by Vietnamese newspapers via the provision of text news and videos in one platform (Facebook or their websites). The other type is already conducted when an article is provided both in print and digital versions (cross-platform promotion); digital articles are often shortened, posted pre-print version to raise curiosity for the print one or increases web interests (views), and posted in full after with/without additional information. This way, readers’ interest in both print and digital versions is maintained for better economic benefits (advertising revenues). Multi-media story-telling and joint work between newspaper journalists and T.V/ radio reporters are other examples of institutional economic convergence (Killebrew, 2005), which are also seen via the combination of texts and video (YouTube-based) in one article, or the collaboration of professionals of different media in news organizations that own television/radio stations and also newspapers. VOV (Voice of Vietnam) and VTV (Vietnam Television) do so with tight relation between their content in print magazines and T.V/ radio programs.
Like in other countries in the world (Kolodgy, 2006), full regulatory convergence does not exist in Vietnam, but there are evidence for partial regulatory convergence; partial regulatory convergence in journalism refers to rules allowing news organizations to conduct technological and economic convergences. Though the government admitted the lack of proper monitoring of digital (new) journalism (slow policy versus rapid digital news development), a good start was made with a Regulation for paid T.V program (a reference for potential paid online news), and Decree 02/2011/ND-CP of administrative fines in journalism (including digital one) (Tinmoi, 2012). Before that, starting from 1999 (with ‘Lao Dong’ case), print newspapers in Vietnam were allowed to issue their digital versions on the web, leading to the wave of such news sites. Directive 52-CT/TW was issued in 2005 to emphasize on monitoring and facilitating electronic newspapers (Pandora, 2013). In 2014, a Plan for national journalism up to 2025 was issued, in which electronic newspapers’ important, strategic role is insisted (Tuoitre, 2015).
Additionally, Stanchak (2010) and Schepke (2012) also argued about two more forms of convergence, which are (1) a combination of paid, owned, and earned content, and (2) social media convergence. The first form has not yet seen in Vietnamese news landscape; there is only paid (cable) television (82 channels up to 2017, according to Vietnamnet (2017)). All digital content on Vietnamese newspapers’ online websites is free for now. The second form, social media convergence, however has taken place in Vietnam, with print articles shared digitally in the newspaper’s social networking sites (frequently Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and YouTube), with the information flow continued with readers’ comments and discussion on these platforms.
With convergence taking three forms in the industry, convergence effects are witnessed in many newspaper organizations during their transformation from print-based to multi-platform-based. The effects are also the changes undertaken by news companies in the evolution process, which are divided into four types: content diversity, media use, newsroom practices, and curriculum structure (Dupagne & Guerrison, 2006).
To examine content diversity resulted from convergence for Vietnamese news organizations, attention is paid to two aspects, which are topic categories (themes, layout, design), and content sources (interaction and participation of readers in content creation). Figures 8 and 9 are examples for content categories of ‘Lao Dong’ and ‘Thanh Nien’ newspapers, which are not much differences from the ones of other digital versions of print newspapers or purely online news sites. The common layout is the newspaper’s name in the top left corner, a horizontal tab of themes/ categories, and a vertical tab on the left with the hottest news, a keyword-search function, and links to social networking platforms. The common themes/ categories include News/society, World, Economy/ Business, Culture/Sports, Reader/(‘I write’ for ‘Thanh Nien’), Life/Health, Technology, Education, and Video. Each newspaper may have some specific themes such as Trade for ‘Lao Dong’ (a newspaper created initially for the labourers, which is its name ‘Labour’), and Youth for ‘Thanh Nien’ (for similar reason as ‘Lao Dong’, ‘Thanh Nien’ was aimed at young readers). Otherwise, ‘Lao Dong’ also have a Forum section, while ‘Thanh Nien’ has Games and Vehicles sections to attract its audience. Regarding content categories as an indicator for content diversity, electronic versions of Vietnamese newspapers have quite similar categories, which are quite diverse, talking about all aspects in life (rather than being specialised).
Regarding content sources, user contribution in content creation is seen partly via the continuation of the information flow (started with the newspaper’s article) by leaving comments on the newspapers’ social media platforms. More importantly, community-generated content is accepted and treasured by the newspapers when categories such as Forum, Readers, or I write are dedicated to users’ content – such categories have an equal position besides others such as Culture, World, or Economy/ Business on the category tab of the news sites. According to Cafef (2016), the success of ‘Lao Dong’ and ‘Thanh Nien’ in attracting quickly massive readers to their digital versions is made with a remarkable help of such users’ content-encouraging sections. User-contributed contents in some big newspapers are quite distinctive (from others), such as ‘Dan Tri’ with blogs, Vnexpress with a Reader’s Views section whose contributors are mostly professionals in their fields such as experienced doctors, teachers, and business person, ‘Lao Dong’ with Forum and Readers sections with political discussions and writings by Vietnamese living abroad (Toplist.vn, 2016). In addition, while the print version has a corner for readers’ letters and queries, and contacting details, it is the same for the electronic version, with functions enabling readers to call or send messages to the newspapers (seen in Figure 6 above of ‘Lao Dong’’s Facebook) – this emphasizes the papers’ acceptance and encouragement for user-generated content. In summary, content diversity illustrated by various categories/ topics and interaction/participation of users in content creation are both seen in the Vietnamese news industry.
In parallel to useful information, the development of content diversity by digital newspapers has some problems, too; these problems are familiar in the digitalization of newspapers worldwide, caused mostly by the search for high audience by posting more tabloid content. Some worrisome issues for Vietnam’s digital news sites are copyright violation, private life violation, individual shaming, ‘disguised’ advertising, Photoshopped photos and too many links with outside sources (a click in web A for content transfers readers to web B, C, D …) (Tinmoi, 2012). Shocking information, scandals, photos of bikini models are found ubiquitously in many news sites to increase views and attract audience, which reduces journalism values (Toplist.vn, 2016). As a result, in 2012 alone, for print and digital newspapers in Vietnam, 41 administrative fines (valuing VND 343 million, equal to US$ 16,300) and 10 warnings were made by the authorities; among them, there were 18 cases of false/incorrect information, 4 cases of title-content irrelevance, 5 cases of lacking permission to report certain content, 4 cases of wrong use of Vietnam’s geographical map, and 13 cases of advertisement-related fines (Tinmoi, 2012).
Media use refers to the variety of media employed by the news organizations. First, the combination of Video and texts in news is familiar for Vietnam’s digital newspapers in the Top 10 or not. For VOV and VTV, which are news organizations having also radio and/or television stations, their online magazines’ content shows a combination of news in video, audio, text, and streaming video formats; aside from videos, other said types are not yet available for other newspaper websites. As previously seen, multiple media use has taken place in most newspapers when they have both print and digital versions, and a closer look shows a great difference for their digital success regarding the media platform use. For example, ‘Lao Dong’, ‘Dan Tri’, ‘Thanh Nien’, and ‘Tuoi Tre’ are all big names in the Top 10 most viewed digital newspapers (in which 3 have print circulations) with social networking sites including Facebook (the favourite social networking site in Vietnam) (Pandora, 2013). However, ‘Tuoi Tre Online’ Facebook has more than 2 million likes, high number of views, shares, and likes per post, constantly updated post, and rapid reader response rate. ‘Lao Dong’ has much lesser likes at more than 170,000, but activities on its Facebook are as exciting (views, shares, likes, responses), constant and user-centered. Meanwhile, ‘Thanh Nien’ and ‘Dan Tri’ Facebook pages have disappeared (as of Mars 2017 when this project is conducted); though having all platforms, the use is not equal and the several newspapers have not had strategies to develop stably their media use.
Convergence in the news industry affects professionals’ roles and importance, culture, management style, and working place in the newsrooms toward multimedia capabilities and cross-platform content distribution and creation. Some examples include common budget systems and shared news agenda among different media organizations, and the multi-tasking, one-man requirement for journalists (Majoribanks, 2013). The requirement of journalists to be also video-maker, computer-user, news editor – in brief, to be multi-media skilful for digitalization in news – is seen as a must in newspapers’ job advertisements nowadays; this indirectly illustrates that journalists’ work practices have significantly changed in a converged media landscape, as compared with traditional (print) journalism. Examples are candidate requirements by ‘Phap Luat Ho-Chi-Minh’ (having both print and digital versions), and VTC-Intecom (television-news organization having multiple digital newspapers): aside from passion and experiences/ qualifications for journalism, language skills, other requirements such as internet and computer skills, ability to master video-making, editing, and familiarity to digital journalism have become a must.
Several Vietnamese journalists have taken advantage of the digitalization and platformization of information to build their identities online, attracting followers with their Facebook posts which may have links to their articles in digital versions of newspapers. Their digital skills are illustrated by their digital articles and during their interaction with readers. Some notable names include Tri Minh Hoang (Facebook Cu Tri), having 57,000 followers, and Le Nguyen Huong Tra (Facebook Co gai Do Long) with more than 400,000 followers.
Common shared agenda and co-operation in the newsrooms among newspapers are seen when news organizations collaborate with each other, having links to each other on their websites, and/or providing differently targeted audience segment with different views on the same information. Figure 10 and 11 show examples for collaboration in news-making and brand promotion between ‘Kenh14’, ‘Soha’, ‘Afamily’ and ‘Dep’ news websites (among which Dep and Afamily have print magazines), and between ‘Thanh Nien’ and iHay, ‘Tin Nong’ and ‘Saigon Am Thuc’.
The changing journalism landscape under effects of the Internet and its resultant information and communication technologies toward convergence is illustrated and confirmed also by the alteration in curriculum structure of journalism institutes in the country. With new skills required (as seen from above examples of ‘Phap Luat Ho-Chi-Minh’ and VTC-Intecom), curricula for journalism education has to be updated to focus on multimedia, multi-platform writing as well (Lowrey et al., 2005).
Aside from traditional specialization such as audio and graphic journalism, in Vietnam’s three official journalism educational institutions (University of Social and Human Sciences in Hanoi’s National University, Academy of Journalism and Communication, and University of Social and Human Sciences in Ho-Chi-Minh’s National University), new specializations such as digital journalism, and multimedia journalism have been introduced (Careerbuilder, 2012). The first class of digital journalism (K23) with 23 students in Hanoi’s Academy of Journalism and Communication in 2003 marked an important date in Vietnam’s journalism history, as for the first time digitalization in journalism has become a specialization in journalism education of the country (Baomoi, 2010). Differences in modules in this specialization include event writing, fast writing (for hot news and social media information), Photoshop effects, photo and video creation and editor for websites, website creation, forum management, online interview, and information searching. Digital journalism training in Vietnam is still underdeveloped, with journalism schools planning for the long-term and accumulating investment to further improve it (Careerbuilder, 2012). For current journalists and editorials, they receive training classes for law, management and new skills annually that are organized by Vietnam’s Association of journalists and the Ministry of Culture and Communication. The purpose is to improve their quality and help them adapt to changes in journalism, toward new, digitalized news-making (Tinmoi, 2012). Indeed, the quality of Vietnamese journalists have positively changed to suit new and more severe requirements for the occupation, with the majority of journalists having at least a bachelor’s degrees nowadays. In 2011, the ratio of bachelor’s and master’s/doctor’s degree holder among journalists in Vietnam were respectively 88% and 5%. In 2015, the figures were 94% and 7% (Infonet, 2015).
The Disruptive Innovation Theory and its Resources-Processes-Values framework is discussed here because of their help for news organizations to identify their strengths and weaknesses to create new dynamic capabilities, which will increase their success when disruptions happen in journalism (Lavie, 2006); here disruptions are disruptive technologies in information and communications, including the Internet. According to Gilbert et al. (2002), recent research in journalism suggests an adoption of new business models to generate new revenues that are not contrasting to the newspapers’ core business. For the case of Vietnam’s newspaper industry, so far no record can be found for non-core activities by Vietnamese newspapers to generate new revenues except for native advertising; event hosting, subscription and/or paid content, web consulting – the non-core activities conducted by successful survivors in global journalism – have yet to happen in Vietnam. So far, Vietnamese newspapers rely more on selling advertisements (the use of old business models for the digital environment) to their normal clients with AdMicro their primary agency (accounting for 96% online advertising deals in Vietnam) (Tinmoi, 2012; Cafef, 2016). Still, as previously said by Nguoilambao (2015) and Vietnamnet (2017), digitalization will soon require Vietnamese newspapers to change more considerably their business models, as so far online advertising revenues have come to only the most viewed news sites and even for them, the revenues are not as big (as before digitalization for print news). The RPV framework can offer systematic solutions to Vietnamese newspapers if they want to further alter their business models, creating dynamic capabilities to succeed in digitalizing their newspapers.
Based on previous summary of RPV framework application in journalism (globally) in Literature Review, some solutions to offer to Vietnam’s newspaper industry are as follow:
- For Resources’ dimensions: digitalization goes beyond news websites, and innovative ideas can be encouraged with dedicated financial resources (Innosight, 2009). The newspapers should provide also more human resources to non-core activity development. At the workplace and in the newspapers’ announcements, support to innovation must present to encourage innovation from the inside (staff) and outside (with readers’ contribution). Senior managers of the newspapers should focus on finding more growth opportunities for non-core products, seeing this as strategic target for long-term growth.
- For Processes’ dimensions: Innovative ideas will be tested and applied more easier without high risk with staged allocations of resources (Anthony et al., 2007). The use of anonymous growth group is advised to avoid using old processes for new ideas.
- For Values’ dimensions: The innovative culture and innovation-supportive language must be nurtured in the newsrooms. Terms such as ‘invest a little, learn a lot’, and avoidance of perfection and overinvestment in digital journalism must be repeated among staff. In everyday practices, a multimedia mind set must be planted in staff’s minds so that the use of multimedia in content creation and the continuous search for better customer experiences via multimedia is their priority.
Using a content analysis, focusing on the Top 20 of print and digital newspapers in Vietnam, this project examined the influences of the Internet on Vietnam’s newspaper industry. Similar to findings in other countries in the world (Meyer, 2008; Gaskins & Jerit, 2012), Vietnam’s entertainment and media landscape has undergone considerable changes since the introduction of the Internet, and specifically after the rapid increase of Internet and mobile users starting from 2007. Consequently, difficulties to traditional journalism in the world have started to be acknowledged in Vietnam, such as the reduction of readership and advertising revenue; however, the end of traditional journalism is not that soon due to distinctive social, political and cultural roles of print journalism in the country (Nguoilambao, 2016), unlike the great suspicion or even claim of such convention journalism’s end internationally (The Guardian, 2016; Cook & Sirkkunen, 2012). The evolution of Vietnamese news organizations toward convergence in mass media in general and new journalism in particular is analysed with regards to the convergence forms taking place, and convergence effects caused by the forms. As a result, all three main forms of convergence (technological, economic, and partial regulatory convergences) are found in the industry, leading to illustrative examples of all four kinds of convergence effects (content diversity, media use, newsroom practices, and curriculum structure). Though Stanchak (2010)’s additional form of convergence – the combination of paid, earned and owned content has not been seen in Vietnamese newspapers yet, another new convergence form that is social media convergence by Schepke (2012) has been found; Vietnamese newspapers have their appearances in social networking sites to share their original content (of print version), continuing the information flow with online readers’ comments and discussion on multiple social platforms (Facebook, Google+, Twitter, YouTube).
The finding of three main forms of convergences, on the one hand, illustrate the Internet’s influence on the news industry of Vietnam; on the other hand, it makes this project resemble those believing in such a convergence form framework to appear in media under the Internet’s effect, such as Murdock (2000), Vallath (2000), and Dupagne & Guerrison (2006). Economic convergence is further divided into user-oriented and institutional ones, both of which have taken place among Vietnamese news organizations (the provision of several news-related services to customers on one platform; multimedia writing, joint work of journalism and radio/television, and cross-platform promotions). Such an economic convergence is similarly argued by Killebrew (2005) and Kolodzy (2006) for instance. Like Dupagne & Guerrison (2006)’s statement, full regulatory convergence is not achieved for Vietnam’s media case, but partial regulatory one can be realized with the nation’s past Decree and Directive for digital journalism management, and the emphasis on digitalization in journalism in the Plan for Journalism up to 2025.
Convergence effects are analysed in terms of four groups; each of them is comprised of several indicators of effects that are the changes in news organizations. First, content diversity illustrated by theme/category diversity (Drula, 2015) as well as the interaction and participation of users (readers) in content creation are both seen in Vietnam’s journalism. Community contribution takes place in the form of not only comments and discussion around articles, but is also dedicated a position in the content tab of the newspapers, besides other themes such as Culture, World, or Business. Aside from positive content diversity, the transition toward digitalization in the industry also witnessed the problem of running for high audience by using tabloid content, thus reducing journalism quality; such an abusive use of car and celebrity photos and scandals to attract temporary traffic to news sites that may affect the newspapers’ reputation and decrease their loyal audience is similar to many newspapers worldwide as reported by Mitchell (2014). Coming to media use and newsroom practices, development in Vietnam’s news industry is still little and slow with the lack of several innovative, non-core activities that are already conducted by international newspapers to generate revenues and altering their practices. Still, the core changes in media use and newsroom practices, such as platformization, shared news agenda, and multi-skill requirement for journalists are seen in Vietnam’s newspapers, just as argued by Majoribanks (2013), Cook & Sirkkunen (2012), or Drula (2015). The shortage of non-core activities such as web consulting and event organizing practiced by western newspapers as recorded by Ziv (2009) and Grueskin et al. (2001) shows slow adaptation to convergence trend in the Vietnam’s news industry, though. Meanwhile, convergence effect is realized via changes toward digital and multimedia journalism in curricula of Vietnam’s journalism schools, like proposed by Lowrey et al. (2005).
In summary, converging media and journalism landscape in Vietnam under the Internet’s influence is pictured with all three forms of convergence recognized in Vietnam’s newspapers, but the convergence effects show slow evolution of the country’s news organizations so far. The effects in all four aspects are recognized in Vietnam’s news industry, but with a shortage of several changes found in newspapers worldwide toward convergence (the lack of paid content and subscription that exist for only television so far; inefficient use of social media platforms in several digital versions of newspapers; few partnerships between news and other media companies except when belonging to the same entertainment and information groups; the lack of evidence for innovation-, digitalization-encouraging culture and management styles; the lack of non-core activities for additional revenues).
Under the influences of the Internet and technological advances in information and communication, mass communication in specific and the mass media environment in general have undergone critical changes (disruptions) that resulted in converged media landscape with new supply and demand curves. Audience segmentation, introduction of new platforms, appearance of community-generated content, and the change of information-seeking and reading habits have led to tremendous difficulties for traditional newspapers; the reduction of readership, plunge of advertising revenues in the middle of the global economic downturn have led to significant job loss in the industry, leading to suspicions for the death of traditional journalism. The influences of the Internet to traditional journalism are seen via three forms of convergences, and four types of convergence effects illustrate news organizations’ evolution to converged journalism. During this evolution, mistakes are often committed by newspapers in the search for high traffic and audience return for advertisement revenues, but several useful lessons can also be learnt from survivors who have successfully generated revenue sources from digitalization of core business, focus on audience loyalty and journalism quality, while at the same time earning from non-core activities such as web consulting and event hosting. The Disruptive Innovation Theory explains why the key point stays with innovative business models rather than simply new technological adoption, and its Resources-Processes-Values framework is useful for news companies to evaluate their strengths and weaknesses, create dynamic capabilities to ensure adaptation (not failures).
It is with this theoretical and empirical background that the conceptual framework for this project is constructed to answer the research questions about the influences of the Internet on Vietnam’s newspaper industry; how the influences take place is illustrated by convergence forms, while convergence effects prove the influences, showing the evolution of Vietnamese news organizations in a converging media landscape. With a rapidly entertainment and media market, in parallel to equally rapid increases yearly in the number of Internet and mobile users and Facebook’s fast client gains, similar challenges to Vietnam’s traditional journalisms are already seen; the speed of influence is slower, though, with Vietnamese news organizations’ reactions at the same speed. All three forms of convergences – technological, economic (at user and institution levels), and partial regulatory convergences – are discovered for the Vietnam case using a content study with an emphasis on the Top 20 print and digital newspapers. As a result, several aspects of Vietnamese news organizations have evolved critically in terms of content diversity, media use, newsroom practices, and curriculum structure; the most remarkable convergence effects as seen from previous research of global newspapers are also found in Vietnam, proving the catching-up and transition of Vietnam’s news industry toward convergence as a certain trend in journalism. Still, several changes found in newspapers worldwide toward convergence are lacking in the Vietnam case, including paid content and subscription that exist for only television so far; inefficient use of social media platforms in several digital versions of newspapers; few partnerships between news and other media companies except when belonging to the same entertainment and information groups; the lack of evidence for innovation-, digitalization-encouraging culture and management styles; and the lack of non-core activities for additional revenues. Thus, like the opinions of some Vietnamese journalists (Nguoilambao, 2016; Cafef, 2016; Vietnamnet, 2017), though the distinctive social, political and cultural roles of Vietnamese print newspapers slow down the question for traditional journalism’s end in the country, digitalisation is the future and requires more efforts by Vietnamese newspapers than what they have achieved so far. This project pictures the evolution of Vietnam’s news industry toward convergence, but more importantly, also suggests some activities that Vietnamese newspapers can do in this converging media landscape, some of which are based on the Disruptive Innovation Theory and its RPV framework.
Some limitations are not avoidable in this project, given that no such project has been conducted earlier to evaluate the Internet’s impact on the transition toward convergence in Vietnam’s newspaper industry. The first limitation is resulted from the student’s time, money and geographic constraints, that prevented the student from collecting primary data for this project. Aside from content analysis, interviews with professionals in the industry will enrich findings and confirm interpretation of secondary data. This limitation would not be that important if there were not a shortage of previous academic articles (as well as discussions on the webs) on the evolution of Vietnamese newspapers under the Internet’s effect; the findings of this project are thus based on the confirmation of changes in newspapers globally for the Vietnamese news organizations. Future research thus can use interviews and/or field studies to obtain more in-depth knowledge. The second limitation is the sample size of this project; future researchers in projects with larger scopes can include more newspapers in their sample, providing readers with more evidence and examples. Another possibility of increasing the value of a future research is the implementation of the RPV framework as well, which is not feasible for this project, given the scarcity of available secondary data and the impossibility of using interviews to reveal the newspapers’ strengths and weaknesses that are required for this framework. Solutions to the newspapers toward innovative business models and non-core activities adoption would be more detailed if this framework analysis can be conducted.
 Other characteristics of traditional journalism’s business model that have become irrelevant (facing digital disruptions/ convergence) are large and expensive editorial staff, production, and capital costs to produce timely content; also, a large number of subscribers is needed to attract advertisers, who bring most revenue to support the newspaper. The traditional business model is disrupted heavily by the Internet as timely content is cheaper, transmitted faster and without border, while advertisers have access to the same audience at much lower cost.
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