Training schedule for Vietnam

This is the outline for the week, with one three-hour session before lunch and 3.5 hours after lunch, each day. All those attending the sessions will be newspaper journalists, as far as I know now.


  • Morning: How U.S. journalists use and write blogs
  • Afternoon: How to make your own blog (hands-on)

Software needed: Web site (free)


  • Morning: Online audio and podcasts
  • Afternoon: How to gather and edit audio (hands-on)

Hardware needed:

  1. Digital audio recorders for each 2 or 3 participants to use
  2. Loudspeakers for my laptop computer
  3. Headphones for each computer used by participants

Software needed:

  1. Audacity, including the LAME MP3 encoder, installed and configured (free)
  2. Switch file format converter (free)


  • Morning: Audio slideshows (rationale and examples)
  • Afternoon: How to create an online slideshow with audio (hands-on)

Software needed: Soundslides demo version (free)

Hardware needed:

  1. Loudspeakers for my laptop computer
  2. Headphones for each computer used by participants


  • Morning: Useful tools for journalists — RSS feeds and readers; social bookmarking
  • Afternoon: Online maps; how to create an online map (hands-on)

Software needed:

  1. Google Reader (Web site)
  2. (Web site)
  3. FMAtlas (Web site)
  4. Google Maps


  • Morning: Online video practices at U.S. newspapers
  • Afternoon: How to edit video (hands-on)

Software needed: Windows Movie Maker (free)

Hardware needed:

  1. Loudspeakers for my laptop computer
  2. Headphones for each computer used by participants

Hoping this will work, as it’s not yet clear what kind of gear and software will be available to us during the training sessions.


Vietnam = “China lite”

From The Economist, 24 April 2008:

It is tempting to view Vietnam as a mini-China, since both countries are run by ardently capitalist communists, but there are differences. A foreign diplomat in Hanoi who used to serve in Beijing says that “everything here is more moderate than in China.” Vietnam is a bit less harsh with dissidents than China, and its capitalism too is less red in tooth and claw. Its health and education services have adapted more successfully to the transition to a market economy. Its press is strictly controlled, as in China, but the growing numbers of internet surfers have free access to most foreign news websites: there is no Vietnamese equivalent of the Great Firewall of China. …

China enforced a one-child policy harshly; Vietnam had a two-child policy, pursued half-heartedly. Whereas China is already greying, Vietnam’s post-war baby-boomers are now coming into their prime, and rapid economic growth has been providing jobs for them all. HSBC‘s chief in Vietnam, Tom Tobin, notes that in a decade or two, when much of the rest of the world will be ageing rapidly, Vietnam’s boomers will still be at the most productive phase of their careers.

This so reminds me of Malaysia:

Noting that higher education and scientific innovation were the keys to riches for Japan, South Korea and Taiwan, Vietnam is wooing foreign high-tech firms and inviting rich countries to set up universities and training facilities on its soil. An Australian university, the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, has already opened state-of-the-art campuses in Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi. A German university and several South Korean technical colleges are planned. Meanwhile families from the prime minister’s downwards are sending their youngsters to study abroad.

But perhaps, lacking Malaysia’s uneven racial-preference policies, Vietnam will advance more in the way of South Korea — regardless of the communist government.

Vietnam economy

From the International Herald Tribune/AP, 26 March 2008:

Within Asia, Vietnam’s growth has been second only to China in the past few years, with economic liberalization drawing a flood of foreign investment.

But rising inflation, which reached 16.4 percent in the first quarter, has threatened to undermine the economic success story …

Standard Chartered forecasts Vietnam’s GDP to expand about 7.5 percent this year.

From The Economist, 31 Jan 2008:

Economist chart 2008 Worries about the soaring cost of living are being felt across Asia, but in few places is there more concern than in Vietnam, where the government this week said the annual inflation rate had hit 14.1%, its highest since 1995. On January 30th the central bank raised its various official interest rates by up to 1.5 percentage points to try to prevent an inflationary spiral.

The country is suffering from the worldwide surge in the cost of fuels and foodstuffs — food prices are up by a whopping 22% year-on-year. But the inflationary spike is also partly the consequence of a prolonged boom: Vietnam’s economy grew by around 8.5% last year, one of Asia’s most impressive rates, having grown by an average of 7.5% annually in the previous decade …

Some of the things Vietnam wants and needs to do to make the economy more competitive in the long term are pushing up prices in the short term. This is true, for instance, of a big infrastructure drive to build roads, power stations and so on. The IMF, worried that public spending is intensifying inflationary pressures, is urging the government to save any windfall from its recent tax reforms, rather than use it to boost spending on infrastructure even more. The World Bank, by contrast, is urging it to spend even more on such projects, worried that the country’s continued growth will otherwise be at risk. The state electricity firm has been giving warnings of blackouts as it struggles to meet big increases in demand. …

The country earns a lot from exports, especially of farm produce. But much of its growth is driven by domestic demand. So a modest weakening in external demand might be just enough to stop the economy overheating and curb inflation …

More from The Economist (24 April 2008):

From (no date):

Vietnam’s greatest economic resource is its literate and energetic population. Its long coastline provides excellent harbors, access to marine resources, and many attractive beaches and areas of scenic beauty that are well suited to the development of tourism; a lack of infrastructure, however, has inhibited full utilization of these assets. The actual potential for economic growth based on Vietnam’s wealth of natural resources, however, is being rendered increasingly problematic by population growth, environmental degradation, and rising domestic demand, and the country remains one of the poorest in the world.

Rural Development and Economy

Accelerating Rural Development in Vietnam (PDF, 1.1 MB): World Bank document prepared at the end of fiscal year 2005; data refer to the status of the World Bank portfolio on 30 June 2005.

A large number of new companies and family businesses were formed after the country’s Enterprise Law went into effect in 2000. About three-quarters of the workforce in Vietnam lives in rural areas (2003, Rural Poverty Portal). As mechanization reduces the number of agricultural jobs, it’s important that displaced workers not relocate to the cities, as that would create a whole new set of poverty problems.

But Viet Nam, with a population of 80 million, needs to create more than one million jobs a year for new jobseekers. Much of Viet Nam’s population still lives in rural areas, where unemployment and under-employment rates run as high as 30 percent. At the same time, job growth in the dominant state-owned enterprises is sluggish, while those enterprises continue to drain vast amounts of resources, including land and credit, without offering strong prospects for significant employment generation. The state-owned companies employ only about five percent of the workforce. (United Nations Development Programme, 2003)

This is the same challenge the United States faced in the 1920s and 1930s — how do you keep people “down on the farm” so as not to increase urban poverty?

Vietnam online news

News from Vietnam, in English:

In Vietnamese:

Thanks to Ehrin Macksey for the Vietnamese language links.

Journalism, Internet, Vietnam

Doing some research.

From Vietnam’s Internet freedom dilemma (BBC, 12 Dec 2006):

Wi-fi and internet cafes are full of students learning English, checking out overseas courses or chatting with new friends they’ve made online.

From BBC country profile: Vietnam:

  • Internet cafes must register the personal details of customers
  • 18.6 million Internet users by end of 2007 (official figure)
  • Vietnam named as one of 13 “enemies of the internet” by Reporters Without Borders in 2006

From Living, working or investing in Vietnam: The expat and travel guide:

The internet is everywhere, Vietnamese people adopted it massively. E-mailing and chat gather several thousands of people in the Internet Cafes now equiped with ADSL, which is convenient when we use vocal chat and webcam. Using the internet in Vietnam is cheap, about 3000-4000 dong / hour depending on the place where you go.

From HCM City media, officials review Press Law (25 April 2008, at Vietnam Journalism):

The Press Law that was passed eight years ago has significantly helped in developing the media but it could do with changes to several provisions, delegates told a conference held in HCM City on April 24.

More than 250 officials from media organisations were invited to the conference held to review the Press Law and give their opinions.

Media people say any changes to the law should focus on new media, such as electronic newspapers, personal websites, and blogs.

From Vietnam goes blog crazy (7 Sept 2007, The Standard/AFP, via Noodle Pie):

Vietnam may be a one-party state that censors its official media and the internet, but this has not stopped millions of young people embracing a world of carefree online chatting their parents could only have dreamed of.

“Blogs were nothing two years ago and suddenly everybody’s got one,” said 28-year-old Canadian expatriate Joe Ruelle, a celebrity in the local blogosphere.

“The number of people who have blogs is baffling. It’s kind of like the Wild West right now. People write everything.”

… Writing diaries has a long tradition in Vietnam, a country with a strong and ancient literary heritage, and the tragic Vietnam War diaries of female army doctor Dang Thuy Tram have become a recent best-seller.

But for Ngan and many of her classmates, written diaries are as passe as the Vietnam War that ended in 1975, long before she was born.

“It’s old-fashioned and I already have to do too much handwriting at school,” she said. “On a blog we can express ourselves more freely. Writing a blog is a good break from study. It’s entertainment.”

From the Reporters Without Borders annual report 2008: Vietnam:

Liberal newspapers, such as Tuoi Tre (Youth) tried to push against the limits of official censorship but the government used repressive legislation to bring the most daring to heel. A law passed in 2006 provides for fines and suspensions of licences for media and journalists who defame and attack the “prestige of the state”.

The official media, which comprises more than 100 radio and television stations, as many websites and nearly 600 publications did not in 2007 make use of the space for debate opened up ahead of the 2006 Communist Party Congress. On the contrary, the media, including the party newspaper and police newspapers campaigned against “agitators” and “terrorists” from inside and outside the country.

From Internet World Stats:

  • Internet usage: 17,546,488 Internet users as of September 2007 (20.6% of the population), according to VNNIC
  • Population: 85,031,436 (est.) 2007, according to World Gazetteer
  • “The Vietnamese government has announced plans to increase the country’s Internet penetration to 35% by 2010, according to a report by news agency AFP dated February 20, 2006. The country, which currently has around ten million internet users, equating to a penetration rate of 12%, will inject VND100.5 trillion (USD6.3 billion) into the internet market by 2010 in order to meet its target.”

Random: “When Autumn Sunlight Comes” (Khi nang thu ve), directed by Bui Trung Hai, won a Gold Remi Award for Best First Film at the Houston International Film Festival in 2008. (More about Vietnamese movies.)