Nhan Dan, the first Vietnamese newspaper to go online

Monday, 2021-03-08 16:46:34
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Politburo member Nguyen Phu Trong checked the newspaper data on the day the online version of Nhan Dan was launched (June 21, 1998).
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NDO - On the 70th anniversary of the first issue of Nhan Dan Newspaper, journalist Le Nghiem, former director of the online department, recalls the early days when the newspaper was first launched on the internet.

I remember Vietnam officially connected to the internet in November 1997. It was a wise and visionary decision of the Vietnamese leaders at the time, significant to the nation in general and the Vietnamese press in particular.

Soon after that, Vietnamese leaders decided that Nhan Dan must be the first newspaper to bring the voice of the Party, State and people of Vietnam to the international community via the internet. After the Lunar New Year break, the Politburo’s Standing Committee directed Nhan Dan to build an online newspaper. Nhan Dan leaders undertook the task in an earnest effort and effectively completed it in a short time.

During the process to recruit the staff for the online version, Nhan Dan’s Editorial Board gave priority to young people who possessed innovative thinking and dared to experiment with new initiatives. On April 1, 1998, I was appointed to lead the online department and then asked by Nhan Dan leaders to search for reporters who were young, dynamic and proficient in using both computers and foreign languages.

I was able to pick ten reporters for the online department and quickly turned to training. Mr Dinh The Huynh and I directly tutored the reporters for about a month and then we got to work. I quickly created a training programme after reviewing the work of some major online newspapers. I did research on how their websites were designed and how the headlines were written. I learned, practised and then demonstrated these to my colleagues. After that we recruited technicians, procured equipment and built the infrastructure. The whole process took only a month and it was very successful. Today the first ten reporters of Nhan Dan Online are all in leadership positions.

When the newspaper went online, the newspaper’s leaders were fully aware of its nature, which was non-periodical, continually updated (and the faster the better), so the production process of online news would not be the same as the print edition. Therefore, Nhan Dan leaders made an unprecedented decision, allowing directors of the online department to review and publish articles before reporting to the Editor-in-Chief.

The team at the time, from leaders, editors to reporters, all felt proud of being aboard the first ship in Vietnam to join the world of online newspapers. All of us really wanted to learn and train ourselves so as to successfully fulfil our mission.

During the early days, the online department received special attention from the newspaper leaders. With regards to the workforce, those with the high scores in the recruitment tests were assigned to work in the online department.

It can be said that Nhan Dan Online has fulfilled its mission as the pioneer in the field of online newspapers in Vietnam. The online edition identified overseas Vietnamese people, foreigners in Vietnam and the international community as its main readership. The online newspaper also introduced selected works of arts and literature, Vietnamese culture and history in order to enrich the lives of those living away from home, because at that time it was not easy to look for such information.

With such a mission in mind, we selected content that met the informational and aesthetic needs of our readers. Nhan Dan leaders always reminded us that the style of the online edition must be elegant when targeting overseas Vietnamese and the international community. Many foreign friends welcomed the appearance of the voice of Vietnamese people on the web. At the time, I even printed out thank-you and feedback letters from readers.

What left a profound impression on me during the first days of Nhan Dan Online was the joint successes of the Politburo, Nhan Dan Newspaper, leaders and reporters of the online department, as well as the effective cooperation of the whole newspaper, especially correspondents.

The lesson of connection and synergy has remained valuable to this day. It is a key factor helping Nhan Dan Online to grow further and continue to be able to compete with major online newspapers in Vietnam today.