Saturday 6 January 2007


This writing is dedicated to Ha Son, Khanh Duy, and Thanh Thao, the most lovable Vietnamese journalists in my eyes. Should there be any lucky chance for people like you to become successful journalists (and I wish you lots of luck), I hope you would then remember the things I said today. No, no, I am not going to give any lecture; I just want to tell you what I feel it is like to work as a reporter in Vietnam. Please notice that I am certainly not qualified for giving any judgement.

“Excuse me, I am news correspondent for the... I would like to have a brief interview with you about… Would you please tell me… OK. OK. Just one more question please. What do you think of…?”

When I started to work as a news reporter, that was one among a number of structures I learnt by heart and would say like a speaking machine whenever teasing an interview on streets with westerners. Perhaps my “data transfer rate” then amounted to 9 or 10 words per second, and I noticed that most of the time, the interviewee would bend down and look at me very seriously, instead of turning their back to my face and walking away. Well… so he would fall into the trap that I had already set up. Speaking as fast as I could was one of my tips to tease an interview outdoors with westerners. But it was just MINE, because it would not work in others’ case. The foreigners, when stopped by me speaking English so fast (and tenderly), would often bend down to see what this small bad-looking strange creature wanted.

Sometimes I thought these words might be ones that slipped off my mouth the most when I first began my work in journalism, though they certainly were not Freudian slips. Later on when I got older, I often recollected the stories I had in the early days of work, and smiled, thinking what a naïve and zealous correspondent I was.

True. There were times when the only thing that made me work was love. I loved to go out, I loved to meet all types of peope, feeling their lives, and, most significantly, I loved to know more. Although I am notorious for being an impatient person who easily loses her concentration, I can spend hours listening to a physicist talking about Doppler effect and light cone, or to a taxi driver complaining how hard his life is, or to a farmer who must be living under poverty line, or to an unemployed music conductor, or to an old artist who loves Ho Chi Minh with all his heart, etc. To tell the truth, it's part of my nature. I love to be with different people, especially unusual or even eccentric ones, and I have a great need for new things. So I rarely regret laying so much of my energy on work. I was convinced that ones can never be good at anything without a love for it, and if you love and do good at something, it will, in its turn, affect you in positive ways. Of course it may also spoil your life at the same time, but the happiness you have is enough to make for the unhappiness.

Yet I have never been an efficient reporter while very often do I feel unhappiness weighing on my heart.

If you are a Vietnamese journalist, you will have many more reasons to feel sad, dears. Whether the sorrow is worth depends just on you. But if you really want to be at peace, you probably should not go in for journalism.

Next post: more on this subject. The writing will be posted in 3 or 4 instalments, so be patient please.