Within the frame of press classification theories developed from Siebert et al. in 1963 to Cain in 2014, this paper is important since it helps to navigate the current position of Vietnamese journalism in its transition from the Soviet Communist to the soft authoritarian style. The paper recognizes the challenges of the Facebook emerged public sphere over the state-controlled journalism in Vietnam through two case studies: Hydro-power Plant Song Tranh number 2 from 2006 to 2012 and the measles outbreak in 2014. The case Hydro-power Plant Song Tranh number 2 occurred before the prevalence of Facebook in Vietnam. For this case study, the author interviewed state-accredited reporters working in three management levels of Vietnamese journalism to understand the eight aspects of state-controlled in journalism, including: media licensing, patrolling, staffing, training, material supplies, access to information, distribution of media products, and TV and radio frequency control. The case measles outbreak in 2014 marked the begin of using Facebook to make influence on political realm, records a no-return point in the Vietnamese media landscape. For this case study, the author compared the contents of Facebook posts and newspapers coverage about the measles outbreak and interviewed the reporters and Facebook users generating the contents. The research finding highlights the changes in Vietnamese media governance, the shift to a greater sphere of controversy in journalism contents, and the entry of lay-people Facebook users in the realm of agenda setting, which challenges the ground ideology of the ruling party in this one-party country.
Le Thu Mach, Monash University, Australia