Journalists in the affluent industrialised world have since the mid-80s adopted information and communication technology (hereafter referred to as the internet) as part of their daily work. The internet has also enabled geographically isolated journalists to build an extensive network of contacts and access diverse information sources. Journalists, and citizens alike, are increasingly publishing their work for access by a global audience. This has effectively forced a redefinition of what constitutes professional practice in journalism. We hear varied claims of how the internet have transformed mainstream journalism practices and empowered citizens to tell their own stories via alternative online news sites. However, the extent that the internet has or has not changed the way journalists in developing economies, for instance in the Indochina region, carry out their work is not as widely known. Instead, what we read is mainly news of political restrictions, nay repression, on journalists by authoritarian governments in the developing countries. Indeed, much research has been done on how journalists from the rich developed economies have adopted the internet in their work, and how the technology has transformed the way news is produced and disseminated to a global market at relatively low costs. Little, however, is known about how similar technologies have influenced or transformed media practices, media operations and media cultures in socialist bloc countries such as Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos. This project aims to bridge this knowledge. The three countries were selected for our study because they share similar political history and economic experience. Over the past decade, the governments of Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia have cautiously embraced the Internet. The potential strengths of the internet to foster sustainable economic and social development in the Indochina region via the media are apparent, but remain untested. The technology thus far is mainly used by the state to distribute public relations information to attract direct foreign investments and tourism. This has effectively reinforced the impression that the internet is mainly used in the Indochina region as a Party organ, just as the media are traditionally used as a state apparatus.
This report was originally published as Loo, E & Hang, DTT, Effects of ICTs on Media Transformation, Education and Training in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia, Asian Media Information & Communication Centre, Singapore, 2007.