The Story of the Only Privately-Owned Newspaper in Vietnam after 1975


This article explores the truth behind the existence of Tin Sáng [Morning News], the only privately-owned newspaper in Vietnam after the Vietnamese Communist Party (VCP) took power in April 30, 1975. After the Liberation Day, as it was called, southern newspaper owner Ngô Công Đức was asked to file an application to relaunch Tin Sáng, a paper well known for fighting against the  US-backed previous political regime before 1972. On July 22, 1975, he finally got the approval to print the first issue ofTin Sáng and since then had never failed fulfilling his duties. In just a few days before the end of June 1981, he was asked to file a shutdown request. Around 3 p.m. on the very last day of June, in a closing ceremony, the vice-president of the Ho Chi Minh City People Committee applauded the paper for its “mission accomplishment.” Starting July 1, 1981, Vietnam no longer has any privately-owned newspaper. From that particular moment on, both Tin Sáng news staffers and media critics kept questioning the independent status of the paper (Phan Dang Thanh and Truong Thi Hoa, 2019; Duong Van Ba, 2015; Huy Duc, 2012; Nguyen Cong Khanh, 2006; Nguyen The Thanh, 2008; Ly Qui Chung, 2004). 

Based on oral accounts of alive Tin Sáng news staffers, memoirs of editorial members, and special documents acquired from the VCP side, we try to verify the independent status of Tin Sáng and gave it its deserved position in the modern history of Vietnamese journalism. Our preliminary study suggests that although the legacy that Tin Sáng left for the press in Vietnam is not a free press spirit as many media historians, including us, would desire, what it did for the press in Vietnam is invaluable. Since 1975, Tin Sáng had always served as a role model for Party-owned newspapers who wanted to learn about the advertising market. In fact, the news advertising market in Vietnam was born just a short time before and after Tin Sáng's shutdown. Many modern newspapers were said to adopt Tin Sáng's business model. Interestingly, the reason to shut down Tin Sáng  was because it was so much profitable, thanks to its six-year monopoly status. Owner Ngô Công Đức made so much more money than an average person in the society and that was unacceptable based on the Communists' ideologies. His paper must be forced out to close the connection with the past capitalism ideologies. But, ironically, since then, the Party no longer despises advertising revenues.