During one of my recent conversation with my pen pal from Vietnam, we were talking about the media and how it portraits terrorism in Vietnam.

Here in the U.S., we have CNN, ABC, etc. all day long talking about what is going on inside the country, as well as outside of the continent. Some people don’t have cables; there is newspaper everywhere with different covers on the hottest news, including terrorism news. Generally speaking, Americans have unlimited access to news whenever and wherever.

I asked my pen pal how often she watched news broadcasting and what the level of accessibility to news in Vietnam was. She said “I would typically spend about 60 minutes a day on news, which includes 15 minutes coverage of international news. This is the maximum amount of broadcasting news that I have here in Vietnam. The central TV broadcasting here dedicates an hour for news each day around dinner time. Even if you don’t like what they talk about, there are no other choices since the national broadcasting only offer 4 channels. We just have to live with what we have. And probably that is the reason why Vietnamese don’t care much of terrorism. We just don’t get enough information of it.”

15 minutes a day for international news, to me, is not enough. There are a big number of events going on worldwide that 15 minutes a day would not be able to cover. I could imagine the gate keepers of the Vietnamese broadcasting must work very hard to pick and choose which piece of news is worth broadcasting.

I continued and asked her about the Vietnamese media coverage of terrorism. This is what she told me “Vietnamese media use the term “terrorism” freely. Because it is the government broadcasting, what they say on TV must present what the government wants them to say. I find that the Vietnamese media is heavily skewed toward American’s point of view: if the Americans call those men terrorists, we call them terrorists. Most pictures or illustration when the term terrorism was used were scenes of violence, blood, and terrors. That’s how we saw terrorism.”

As the media here in the U.S. has become more conservative on the term “terrorism”, it is certainly possible that other countries are still using it freely without having the concept of “one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter.”