Hoàng Nhat Nguyen’s goal is to stir people’s consciences
The deputy managing editor of the Vietnam+ site wants to alert Vietnamese people to the most pressing environmental issues.
Profile by Éléonore Sok.
We are profoundly affected by climate change and vulnerable to natural hazards: our goal is to sound the alarm, says Hoàng Nhật Nguyễn, driving home his message as deputy managing editor of the Vietnam+ site. The country’s first multimedia portal is part of the VNA, the Vietnam News Agency, based in Hanoi.
We are profoundly affected by climate change...In 2020, for CFI’s Mekong Sustainable News project, Hoàng selected a group of five, top, award-winning journalists, to create content highlighting the key environmental challenges facing this country, with its 3,200 km of coastline.
We’ve reported on deforestation, the heavy flooding inland and the dangers weighing on the Mekong, such as the proliferation of hydroelectric dams. This is a topic of particular concern to us as Vietnam is the country furthest downstream of them, he explains. In total, five articles, a video and two photo features will be published soon on Vietnam+.
We’ve given preference to long articles, incorporating photos and infographics, which is a fashionable format that attracts new readers, he says.
From football field to news field, any time, any place
With 20 years of experience, Hoàng has spent almost half of his life in media. He knew from a very early age what he wanted to do when he grew up.
I’ve always been a huge fan of football, and even as a young boy, I wanted to see matches from the inside, not just on TV, remembers this passionate supporter of Messi and of local star player, Nguyen Quang Hai. After studying at the VNU University of Social Sciences and Humanities in Hanoi, Hoàng ventured into the field of media within the VNA’s sports and culture department. I was thrilled, living my dream of becoming a sports journalist! he recalls.
However, after a few years, Hoàng felt the urge to broaden his horizons. In 2011, he joined the editorial team at Vietnam+ where he was tasked with developing creative projects aimed at a young audience. His biggest success was Rap News+, a programme broadcast on the site from 2013 to 2017, which presented news stories in the style of a rap, targeting the 15-25 age group.
A changing media industry
It’s a difficult time for the media, as our advertising revenue has fallen, our share of the pie has been gobbled up by the tech giants and journalists’ pay is shrinking, so it’s less of a dream job for young people these days… observes the forty-one year old. In his view, the print media in Vietnam is going through its final glory days and the digital press is still in search of its business model. News sites are free as the public do not yet automatically pay for them, whereas they fork out money more readily for films and music.
Only 2% of Vietnam+ website users have a premium subscription. These are results that Hoàng is hoping to improve through sponsored content on Facebook. However, the group’s key strength continues to be the quality of content offered, excluding crime, entertainment and celebrity stories.I’m committed to constructive journalism...
Today, the most sensitive matters are related to the environment; pollution, for example, as Hanoi is one of the world’s most polluted capitals. In this era of COVID-19, these subjects have taken a back seat but it’s our duty to continue talking about them, souligne-t-il.
Yet despite everything, Hoàng refuses to be a doom-monger: I’m committed to constructive journalism that supports the weakest and provides advice to government to encourage it to find solutions for the people, he says before drawing the interview to a close. Since he now has less leisure time, this family man enjoys matches more by watching them on screen.