Reorganizing the Mass Media
In addition to the general call for the building of the state administrative system, the year 1997 saw the leadership move to reorganize the state-controlled media. In March the government set up a national co-ordination committee to manage the Internet and promulgated a decree on interim regulations requiring that offices, businesses, and organizations wanting to link their computers with the Internet comply with all the provisions regulated by the Law on Press and Publications.41 In April the Politburo issued Directive 69/CT-TW requesting that all party committees and party organizations provide guidance to local authorities and chiefs of state organs responsible for the management of the Internet.42
Attention was also paid to other components of the mass media. In August, at a national conference on press and publishing organized in Hanoi, Huu Tho, Central Committee Ideological and Culture Department Chief, gave a speech addressing the role of the mass media, the press, radio, television, and publishing sectors.43 Tho singled out for criticism the tendency of the state-controlled media towards commercialism. According to him, newspapers and magazines had given excessive coverage to sensational incidents involving sex, violence, and crime and had carried too many advertisements for foreign products or goods. They had failed to promote ideological and educational work, publishing books outside their line and purpose of publication, displaying misplaced thinking and concepts, and promoting incorrect political views. Many had shifted their focus away from the large readership in rural areas and factories. Huu Tho emphasized party leadership and the respect for state law, asking the media to explain and spread viewpoints, policies, lines, and directions of the party and state.
In October a government decree barred Vietnamese journalists from providing their foreign counterparts with information, photographs, or articles without government approval. Foreign news bureaus were prevented from hiring Vietnamese journalists and were assigned translators and news assistants trained by the government. …