Evening has fallen on the Hanoi offices of Viet Nam News, the country’s only English-language daily paper, sometime in 2001. Most of the Vietnamese staff have already left for the day, while several of the half-dozen or so foreign sub-editors — myself included — have stayed back, as usual, to tweak the front-page stories and to write the headlines.
Under an enormous banner headline, tomorrow’s lead story relates a prime ministerial visit to a communist youth group in a remote province. This is a typical Viet Nam News front-page screamer. As is also typical, this breaking news took place two or three days ago — the time it took to select the story from the Vietnamese language press, reappraise its suitability for an international audience, and translate it.