71 Hang Trong, where I take a further step towards maturity

Wednesday, 2021-03-10 16:19:54
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The ancient banyan tree at Nhan Dan Newspaper’s headquarters, a witness of many generations of the newspaper’s journalists.
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NDO – On the occasion of the 70th anniversary of Nhan Dan (People) Newspaper’s first issue (March 11, 1951-2021), Nguyen Hoa, a retired journalist at Nhan Dan Newspaper, recalls his childhood memories of the newspaper as well as his career in journalism there.

In 1965 when the US launched its campaign of sustained bombing of targets in North Vietnam, my mother and I had to leave Hanoi and evacuate to a midland province. In a remote village, we found joy from reading Nhan Dan newspaper.

Every day at 2PM the postman came to the foot of the hill to deliver the newspaper to me. On rainy or stormy days when he came late, my mother and I looked forward to him as if we were waiting on something hugely important.

I used to read the newspaper for my mom while she was tailoring. I read every article loud and passionately, and I was extremely excited to read articles about our victories in the battlefields.

I still kept in mind the memoirs entitled ‘Bat Khuat’ (Resilient) by Nguyen Duc Thuan, which was a series in Nhan Dan newspaper, during which the author endured terrible torture from the enemies. My mother always told me about how good communists were.

One day when I tried to deliver an article describing an air battle of the Vietnamese army in an eloquent voice, I perplexed my mother by confusing the word “cannon” with “canoes”!

When we returned to Hanoi, my mother kept placing orders for Nhan Dan newspaper, and I still read it every day. When I joined the army, I was assigned the task of reading newspapers, including Nhan Dan, Quan Doi Nhan Dan (People’s Army), and Tien Phong (Vanguard) through a loudspeaker to my comrades every evening.

That’s it. Nhan Dan newspaper has accompanied me through many difficult periods of time, from days stationed in the deep forests of northern border areas until I returned to Hanoi to study and began my journalism career.

Although I read Nhan Dan newspaper since I was a child, the thought never crossed my mind that I would one day work at the newspaper. Whenever I passed the newspaper’s headquarters at 71 Hang Trong street, I just looked inside to admire the ancient banyan tree and thought of the celebrated journalists of the newspaper, including Hoang Tung, Hong Ha, Huu Tho, Ha Dang, Phan Quang, Thep Moi and Thanh Le.

It came as a surprise to me when I received an order to write for the newspaper’s Culture and Arts Department. I was even more surprised to be invited to work at Nhan Dan newspaper, what I had never ever even dreamt of.

During my first days working at the newspaper, I was like a fish out of water. I was overwhelmed with the vast amount of information handled by the newspaper, which updated readers and viewers on assorted news from the four corners of the country as well as on international issues from around the world.

The newspaper currently produces seven publications including Nhan Dan Daily, Nhan Dan Weekend, Nhan Dan Monthly, Thoi Nay, and Nhan Dan Online, plus the newly-launched Nhan Dan Television Channel.

I try my best and exert every effort to keep up with all of my colleagues at the newspaper.

To date, I have worked at Nhan Dan Newspaper for 16 years. Compared with the 70 years of the newspaper, those 16 years are very short, and compared to a person's life, it is not a long time. But that comparison doesn't make much sense, because looking back today, I think after 16 years I have taken a further step towards maturity.

The fact that I have been working with a team of multi-generational reporters, editors and staff, many of whom have high theoretical and professional qualifications, and knowledge of practical issues, has forced me to overcome myself in all aspects to meet the serious and rigorous requirements of the job; at the same time, it is necessary to adapt to the individual requirements of each publication.

I mainly worked of the daily newspaper, sometimes I was ordered to write for other printed publications. But these publications are quite strict about the number of characters. Meanwhile, one of my passions is in-depth theses of up to tens of thousands of words. And Nhan Dan Online has created conditions to help me satisfy my passion.

Currently, Nhan Dan Online is 23 years of age, and also coincidentally, I bought my first desktop computer in 1998. Back then, internet connection was mainly done through 1260 service of landline telephones. Though the transmission line was weak and the access was slow and sometimes unstable, I visited Nhan Dan online website several times every day. Therefore, although the website has renewed its interface a number of times, I still remember the interface of each period and how the page was organised.

I know it is a great effort of the colleagues from Nhan Dan Online. They have tried to renew the page so that it not only ensures the quality of the content but also has an attractive and convenient appearance for readers.

Remembering the first days, I became acquainted and talked with journalists Thuan Huu (Party Building Department), Trung Dong (Department of Culture and Arts), Kim Anh and The Lan (Department of Politics - Society), Hoang Lien and Van Luc (International Department), Hai Duong and Le Manh Tuan (Weekly printed publication), Do Quang Hoan (Monthly printed publication), and Le Nghiem (Nhan Dan Online). Each person had "something" for me to learn from.

"Something" sounds abstract, but it is the way to approach, discover and organise articles; is the preparation of theoretical knowledge and understanding; is the ability to observe related events and phenomena and especially, do not to let yourself become a "coach journalist" but always try to approach real life through exchanges and field trips. In short, the job that requires me to quickly get acquainted, and must have products which are articles.

I remember a story when I was assigned to attend and report on an important seminar. Indeed, I never learned about journalism, but I still wrote a piece of news. The next day, I saw that the published version was far different from what I had written. I laughed by myself. Then I met with Editor-in-Chief Dinh The Huynh, and I was teased by him. Too embarrassing, I went straight to the library at the office to read how all kinds of news were written. The next day, journalist The Lan showed me some basic features, since then I have been able to cover news.

Another lucky thing for me was the attention of well-known journalists Huu Tho and Phan Quang. They inspired and encouraged me. Huu Tho was cheerful, sometimes very humorous while Phan Quang was slow and strict, but both were sincere and good-willed. They really helped me to adapt to the job.

Just like that, over time my colleagues and brothers, and friends in Nhan Dan, have helped me in various ways. And interestingly, though I was not young, I still found myself taking a further step towards maturity.