Journalism 4.0 and Competition of Social Networks

10:16:25 AM | 6/20/2022

Industry 4.0 development in the media is driving every press agency into fierce competition. Only when it maintains its mainstream legitimacy can the revolutionary press be able to turn challenges into opportunities and make the most of opportunities generated by the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

Newspaper loses steam

The Fourth Industrial Revolution or Industry is producing an increasingly profound impact on Vietnamese journalism. The emergence of internet-enabled smart devices, especially smartphones, is gradually changing public preferences to access information. Figures from the World Advertising Research Center show that 72.6% of all internet users access websites via smartphones.

Meanwhile, Vietnam has the fastest growth in smartphone adoption in the world. According to data provided by Statista, in 2021, Vietnam ranked 10th worldwide with 61.37 million smartphones sold. The smartphone penetration rate in Vietnam is 63.1%.

With very convenient and fast information updating, you can surf the world from anywhere. Most social classes, especially youngsters, think that just a smartphone is enough for them to have the whole world at their fingertips.

The above conveniences have caused newspapers to gradually lose steam in their approach to readers. The image of readers sipping a cup of coffee and leisurely reading a newspaper is perhaps a rare thing to be seen in today's society.

Readers' demand for newspapers has changed, forcing newsrooms to adapt for survival. Most newsrooms are now converting their production of paper newspapers to electronic ones although they keep publishing paper newspapers to a certain extent.

Information on paper is always slower than in the electronic environment. In addition, the coverage of newspapers is also much smaller than the network environment. Furthermore, publishing paper newspapers requires a lot of expenses such as printing and distribution. Meanwhile, electronic newspapers just need to press the publication button. Therefore, current newsrooms reduce paper newspapers, only on a weekly, monthly, or quarterly basis. The number of copies published also reduces.

In fact, newspapers have lost steam in the face of strong competition from electronic communication because even electronic newspapers - the new form of mainstream journalism - are still struggling against social networks - a product of Industry 4.0.

Advantages of mainstream information

Reporter Bui Phu from the Science and Life said, “I am a news reporter. When there is an event, many clips are posted on social networks by people before I could publish it. All information is already there. Running after news provided by people makes me sometimes feel like being “beaten”.

In fact, today, an individual with a smartphone may become a "freelance journalist" to cover an event whose information can be spread faster than by professional journalists. Mr. Tran Anh, General Secretary of the Journalist, exclaimed that currently, a mainstream press agency may be also inferior to a social network user in terms of its message coverage even though both share the same amount of information.

Inferior coverage of information - the advantage of the press - also leads to a decrease in revenue. Today, agencies and businesses that want to spread information will sign up with social networking sites to target the right audiences, better than that offered by traditional newspaper sites.

However, the rapid spread of information on social networks is an advantage but it is also a weakness of the mainstream press: The truth of information.

News on social networks cannot be determined to be fake or real. Facebook once spread fake news that there was a fleet of supercars with blue plates dedicated to governmental agencies in Can Tho City but they were actually model cars. This was only made clear after the government and the mainstream took action to correct it.

In fact, the world press is also following this criterion. The New York Times of the United States put the slogan "The truth is worth it" at the top of the page or CNN asserts "Facts First".

To tell the truth, content must speak. That requires the journalist to be not only a reporter but also an observer and commentator who provides readers with what is happening, will happen and should happen.

The press faces fierce competition from social media but orthodoxy is a universal value that never fades and never diminishes its importance. Only when keeping those values ​​can the revolutionary press be able to turn challenges into opportunities and make the most of that opportunity for sustainable development regardless of whether it is a challenge from Industry 4.0 or the next revolution and beyond.

Former Minister of Information and Communications Le Doan Hop:

The emergence of social networks should not be seen as a challenge to the mainstream press but rather as an opportunity.

When the press orients society with commentaries, social networks will be the best place to spread its orientation. But to do that, it needs more convincing objections, reasonable arguments, and most importantly, the press must be honest and good-natured. It must report any news honestly and then direct audiences to do good deeds.

By Giang Tu, Vietnam Business Forum