Hanoi (VNA) – Amid difficulties caused by COVID-19, media agencies have made great efforts to adapt to the ‘new normal’ and keep information flowing smoothly while making contributions to the country’s implementation of the ‘dual targets’.

According to Deputy Prime Minister Vu Duc Dam, the press has played an important part in COVID-19 prevention and control activities by reporting news on the pandemic in a full and transparent manner as well as providing in-depth analysis.

Media agencies adapt to ‘new normal’ situation with creativity hinh anh 1 A reporter wearing protective suits enters a pandemic hotspot (Photo: VietnamPlus)

To achieve their goals, media agencies have reformed their operational models to adapt to the situation.

Printed newspapers switch to work from home

In April 2020, Vietnamnews, an English daily run by Vietnam News Agency, had to halt publishing of the paper for two weeks as one of its staff tested positive with SARS-CoV-2.

Vu Thu Ha, Assistant Editor-in-Chief of Vietnamnews said that the member of staff had contact with many colleagues in the newsroom, including the Editor-in-Chief, resulting in a high number of F1s and F2s who had to strictly follow pandemic prevention and control regulations.

“As we had not prepared a plan to set up a field newsroom away from our headquarters, we had to cease publishing our paper for two weeks,” said Ha, who added that all staff continued to work on news stories for the online version of the newspaper.

Since this experience, the newspaper has designed policies that will allow its staff to work from home to do all the necessary work to publish the paper even during a worst-case scenario.

Media agencies adapt to ‘new normal’ situation with creativity hinh anh 2A group of Vietnamnews reporters on operations (Photo: VietnamPlus)

The newspaper has also paid more attention to its online version and multi-media products, including Mutex videos to post on social media networks.

Television broadcasters divide forces

When the pandemic broke out on a large scale, reporters of newspapers could conduct interviews over the telephone but their colleagues at television channels still had to go out for filming. In order to minimise the risk of infection, journalists came up with an initiative – asking the interviewee to record their own video clips.

However, Nguyen Quang Vu, Vice Director of the VNews TV channel run by Vietnam News Agency, said that this is just a temporary solution.

To deal with concerns over the quality of the recordings, Vnews have conducted online interviews and direct filming through apps.

Right from the beginning of the pandemic, Vnews divided its forces, with “outside” teams who work outsides for stories, and an “inner force” comprising those who work at the TV station’s headquarters. The two groups tried to minimise direct contact.

“When difficulties double, our determination triples” is the motto that leaders of the broadcaster have given to encourage their staff.

Forming field newsrooms

On July 9 when the headquarters of the Phap luat Thanh pho Ho Chi Minh (HCM City Law) newspaper had to close for disinfection as a COVID-19 case was found in the building, the management of the newspaper promptly decided to set up a ‘field newsroom’ in the private house of Nguyen Duc Hien, its Deputy Editor-in-Chief.

Thanks to careful preparation, the newspaper’s operation was not interrupted.

According to Hien, the newspaper operated smoothly without any single problem.

Tran Trong Dung, President of the Vietnam Journalists Association in Ho Chi Minh City lauded the creativity and efforts of Phap luat Thanh pho Ho Chi Minh newspaper in overcoming these difficulties.

“They managed to bring their publication to readers in such a difficult situation. I think it is evidence of the efficiency of digital transformation,” said Dung.

Optimism, creativity maintained

Unlike their colleagues at home, Vietnam News Agency’s reporters stationed abroad have experienced different problems.

Tran Ngoc Long, head of the agency’s bureau in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, said that in order to stay strong while dealing with the challenging circumstances, reporters should maintain an optimistic outlook to avoid stress.

“The situation in Cambodia has become unpredictable. From March, operations of the bureau have changed completely. Interviews, meetings and press conferences have been cancelled. We can only gather news through text messages and email, while we still have to complete our missions,” said Long.

He said that he was first really aware of the dangerous situation when he came to Khanh Binh-Chrey Thom border gate in April 2020 for filming, when the normally busy place was strangely quiet.

At that time, he was tormented by homesickness and worry. However, he told himself to calm down, be strong and stay healthy to complete the mission assigned by Vietnam News Agency.

With a powerful sense of responsibility, Long and his colleagues in the Phnom Penh bureau have delivered an impressive performance in covering the news in the neighbouring country in a fast and accurate manner despite the pandemic./.