Climate change in Vietnam: Relations between the government and the media in the period 2000-2013
Vietnam is fifth in the hierarchy of countries likely to be severely impacted by climate change. Since 2007 there has been a major expansion of reporting and discussion of this issue in Vietnamese news media. This article reports on a research study of climate change coverage from 2000 to 2013 in four major news outlets: Vietnam Television (VTV), Tuoi Tre newspaper, Nhan Dan newspaper and VnExpress. It found considerable variation on the content and temporal spread of coverage, but also some interesting commonalities, in particular an unusually prominent role for NGOs as sources. There is currently a unity of purpose in the Vietnamese government’s approach to this issue at the moment. In other environmental issues, the major factor affecting government latitude for independent reporting has been the unity or conflict within government on the matter. Where there has been no conflict there has been considerable latitude for journalists to take initiatives in independent reporting, expand the field of media independence and in the process develop their own capital and professional capacities. Thus far in climate change reporting journalists have not taken advantage of this opportunity, but if the scientific predictions of catastrophic impacts are valid, the social, economic and political effects will be major, posing strong challenges to Vietnamese journalists.
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