Google apologizes for mistaken portrait of Vietnamese journalist

By Hieu Nhan, Xuan Tan   February 2, 2023 | 04:45 pm PT
Google has apologized to Vietnam for recently displaying an inaccurate Google Doodle of the country’s first female news editor Suong Nguyet Anh.

"We did a special doodle to honor the life and career of Suong Nguyet Anh, the first female editor in chief of the first newspaper for women in Vietnam," a Google representative told VnExpress on Thursday afternoon.

"However, this doodle didn’t depict her portrait accurately. We sincerely apologize for this incident as we have created unnecessary inconveniences in honoring the outstanding achievements of Suong Nguyet Anh."

On Wednesday, Google changed its normal logo to an animated portrait of what was supposed to be Suong Nguyet Anh wearing a traditional Vietnamese ao dai tunic. The doodle was created by artist Camelia Pham.

However, the face in the doodle was that of Dang Kim Chi, the first headmaster of the Suong Nguyet Anh School for Women.

The animated portrait of Suong Nguyet Anh on Google homepage on February 1, 2023

The animated portrait of Suong Nguyet Anh on Google homepage on February 1, 2023

Suong Nguyet Anh’s likeness has been mistaken a few times in the past.

In a 2018, a book about Southern Vietnamese intellectuals also used a picture of Dang Kim Chi to represent Anh.

Researcher Lai Nguyen An said that throughout his extensive research on journalism in the 20th century, he hasn’t been able to find a single photo of Suong Nguyet Anh.

"I can’t find any old newspaper that has her photo," he said. "At that time, the tools for taking photos were quite limited. I’m not sure if her photo has been kept somewhere and not released to the public."

According to Google Doodle, Suong Nguyet Anh was born Nguyen Thi Ngoc Khue on March 8, 1864, in the Mekong Delta province of Ben Tre. She was the daughter of renowned poet and teacher Nguyen Dinh Chieu.

Her father died when she was 24, at which time she and her brother took over his school. She then moved to the city of My Tho, where she married and had a daughter. Her husband died a few years later, and she did not remarry.

On February 1, 1918, Anh launched Nu Gioi Chung (Women's Bell) newspaper as editor in chief. She started writing for Nu Gioi Chung under the pseudonym Suong Nguyet Anh, meaning "Widowed Nguyet Anh." She wrote mainly about women’s roles in Vietnamese culture and society.

"Suong Nguyet Anh is remembered for her bright mind and personality, her resilience in adversity, and her pioneering work as a women writer and editor who showed the way for future generations," read a statement released by Google Doodle.

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