How Boston Globe and Tuoi Tre
different and similar?
By Châu Mai, Emerson College
The following analysis is based on the Oct. 5 print edition of the Boston Globe and that of Tuoi Tre (Youth), the top daily newspaper inVietnam. Though two papers differ on content, size and format, their front pages have some similarities in terms of news judgment. Their main stories share newsworthiness elements: impact, timeliness, currency, and the unusual.
While the Globe prioritizes Massachusetts-related coverage on its front page, Tuoi Tre’s first page presents prominent news items related to both Ho Chi Minh City, where it is headquartered, and other cities and provinces in Vietnam or even the world. This difference can be explained by the fact that the former is read largely by Massachusetts residents. Tuoi Tre, though a local newspaper managed by the HCMC Communist Youth Committee, has its readership of millions across Vietnam.
All four stories on the Oct. 5 Globe’s front page feature local issues. The flooding in Essex County caused by torrential rains becomes front-page news because it damaged hundreds of homes in many communities, made the commute miserable and turned roadways into flood zones. The worst flooding since 2006 in the region north of Boston estimatedly caused millions of dollars in damage. This story contains five elements of newsworthiness: proximity, impact, weight, timeliness and the unusual.
Like many American papers, the Globe covers intensively the race for the Democratic Senate nomination and the race to the White House but with local angles. Its October 5 front page keeps focusing on candidates Elizabeth Warren in the story “Warren stands firm in debate” and Mitt Romney in the story “GOP elite still not sold on Romney”. It is because the former is a professor of Harvard University while the latter is the former governor of Massachusetts. Proximity, prominence and timeliness are news value standards in these stories. Readers pay more attention to the problems of people they know.
Containing the most newsworthy elements is the story on the “Degas and the Nude” exhibit at the Museum of Fine Arts. The first element is proximity: the exhibition takes place in Boston. But prominence and the unusual make this story dominant on the front page. These two elements can be seen in many ways. First, MFA is one of the largest museums in the U.S and one of the most visited art museums in the world, which attracts over one million visitors a year. Second, it displays the works of Edgar Degas, the 19th-century artist famous for paying closest attention to the naked female form. This makes “Degas and the Nude” one of the most electrifying exhibitions to open in Boston for years. Third, the MFA exhibition is the first museum show ever devoted to the subject of Degas’s career-long engagement with the naked human form. Fourth, some of his paintings are considered the greatest nudes in the history of Western art. The story also appeals to readers’ emotions because it reveals the personal life and passion in painting of the French artist seen as one of the founders of Impressionism.
Like the Globe, Tuoi Tre also values the elements of impact, timeliness, the unusual, and emotion in their main front-page stories. The story “Gao Viet gap thoi” (A golden opportunity for Vietnamese rice) dominates the October 5 front page because it impacts theVietnam’s economy. Rice farming remains the mainstay of the Vietnamese economy with more than 70% of the population living on it. Vietnam is also an exporter of rice. The story points out that in the context Thailand would increase the price of its exported rice in two days while Indonesia and the Philippines are speeding up rice import, it is a great chance for Vietnam to widen its international market share. Information on current developments in the world rice market as well as analyses and predictions of experts in the story are useful to relevant bodies and numerous people in the industry from farmers to rice exporting businesses. The story has an element of timeliness, too.
The story on a 26-year-old poor woman in the Mekong Delta who gradually turned into a very old person continues to appear on Tuoi Tre’s first page because it is unusual, emotional, useful and has educational value. Her story appeals directly to people’s emotions because the more she got treatment from doctors in her rural town who all said she just had an allergy, the worse her disease became. Her family became penniless and she decided to accept her aging disease as a destiny. Readers are also moved by her husband’s unchanged love. The follow-up story covers the diagnosis by doctors from Ho Chi Minh City, who said she has a rare disease named Mastocytose which can be treated. Her story also helps readers learn a rare disease. At least one similar case was found after Tuoi Tre featured her story.
The editorial “Lo von cho doanh nghiep” (Help businesses mobilize their capital) earns a prominent place on Tuoi Tre’s front page because it discusses a current issue having widespread impact on Vietnamese businesses. Its analysis points out that while the new policy of tightening credit growth is aimed to control increasing inflation, this effort is mostly likely to drive small and medium-sized enterprises, whose operational capital mainly depends on bank loans, into bankruptcy. Impact and currency are two newsworthiness elements in this story.