Copyright protection and content production are among challenges facing local media outlets.
Ngay nay becomes the first e-magazine in Vietnam charging readers when it launched services on March 29, pinning hope on a possible trend of paid content in the country whose Internet users account for roughly 69% of total population.
With "Special Today", the column of in-depth stories written by experts, scientists, and experienced journalists presented in the form of the latest journalism technology is aimed to give readers the best experience.
The media outlet will offer different packs on the week, monthly, quarterly, half-yearly, and yearly basis with the maximum cost of VND180,000 (US$7.8) paid via apps, ATMs, and bank cards.
Collecting readership fees for digital content has been a prominent trend in the world's press for the past 10 years, and one of many ways to diversify media revenues in the context of falling print and advertising revenues, said Le Quoc Minh, deputy general director of the Vietnam News Agency.
Nguyen Thanh Lam, head of the Authority of Press under the Ministry of Information and Communications, said Ngay nay's digital subscriptions mark a milestone in the country's press industry, securing the survival in the current difficulties.
He regards the paid media model as a difficult way for the industry to find its true readers, who have lost their habit of paying money to buy printed newspapers, now can be willing to pay and read exactly what they needs, not be "disturbed" by a sea of false information.
Possible trend in Vietnam?
The step by Ngay Nay has stirred up public attention and aspirations to follow the move that is expected to become popular in Vietnam where it is a common habit of accessing media information freely amid the popularity of social networks.
Ngay Nay is the first e-magazine in Vietnam charging readers but the first paid subscriptions was launched in 2018 by the Vietnam News Agency – the official state-run news agency of Vietnam.
But whether paid content hot or not remains uncertain, depending on the enforcement of copyright law in the press industry.
Le Quoc Minh has reiterated the importance of copyright protection in developing content. Once the law is fully obeyed, media outlets and newsrooms are confident to invest more in their publications that are attractive enough to readers.
It's a big mistake that copyright protection in the press industry remains loose, leaving the media landscape in Vietnam unprofessional and in unhealthy development, Minh noted.
Content becomes another challenge for media outlets to ensure whether their stories meet taste of some customers.
A Hanoi-based analyst, who wanted to be anonymous, said to Hanoitimes that the content must be diversified and critical enough to fuel the demand.
Each newsroom might have some certain percentage for the paid service and a thorough survey on the need should be conducted to offer more suitable piece of news.
In addition, each newsroom should point out marketing strategies that target around 5-10% of its total readers to turn them into customers of the paid content.
The case of Ngay nay has been quite satisfactory in terms of service packs that range between VND10,000 (43 US cent) and VND180,000 (US$7.8). But the payment methods must be more convenient as advised by experts in the sector.
Fact should be face with
In the Vietnam's media landscape, printed newspaper circulation has fallen steadily since the advent of the news portals.
The growth of online journalism is the biggest and most dangerous challenge facing print media. The young generation born and raised in the digital age tends to have a different reading culture from the traditional reading habit.
The print media has been gradually pushed back and the electronic press has prevailed, forcing the newspaper industry to re-evaluate its business models in the light of falling advertising revenues.
Media revenues, which include state funding, donations, advertising and publication, are falling, requiring news agencies to adapt to the situation.
Online newspapers must change their mindset and methods to catch up with the readers' demand, Lu Pho An said in an article posted on the online Nguoi Lam Bao newspaper.
He believed that the paid content will help readers become more serious and demanding, therefore, forming new reading culture.
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