Citizen journalism is an important part of modern media, allowing for everyday people to share important information with others. Hadi et al. (2019) note that citizen journalism in itself is “a demand for citizens’ freedom to access and disseminate information according to their needs and openness.” This is especially critical in a country like Indonesia, where media conglomerates also function as political party leaders (Syahputra and Ritonga, 2019), leading to a partisan media, where the public has no way to convey their opinions.
Traditionally mass media is intended to function as a part of the state, providing information to the public and allowing for an arena to express public opinions (Syahputra and Ritonga, 2019), but due to this concentrated media ownership, citizens have to find other ways to access information. While citizen journalism is often associated with the notion of “fake news” and the coverage of events that are wildly sensationalised and fictional, in Indonesia it covers important information for daily life. Syahputra and Ritonga (2019) further note that this voluntary transfer of information among citizens covers areas such as, “traffic accidents, missing persons, or criminal information like theft.”
Hadi et al. (2019) conclude that the media landscape in Indonesia is becoming increasingly participatory, leading to a shift in how individuals consume the news. This in turn has led to major media companies creating their own participatory cites. Two such examples of this are Pasangmata a news page where articles are written based on verified information sent in from citizens, and Kompasiana, a popular journalist blog platform.
Pasangmata receives between 300-400 contributions from citizens daily, in the form of texts, photos or videos (Hadi et al. 2019). It aims to publish accountable information that doesn’t violate journalist ethics or the laws of Indonesia. In doing so it bypasses the fake news phenomena that dominates the majority of western media, allowing citizens to access critical information that they know is coming from reliable, first-hand sources.
While Kompasiana is a much more unfiltered forum, allowing for anyone – regardless of background or social status – to express their own opinions or ideas. Hadi et al. (2019) note that a “smart reader” can judge if “the writing is quality or not” suggesting a very different stance on the reliability of news. Whereas in countries like Australia, news is highly regulated, many are often noted to believe “whatever” they read online, in Indonesia the audience is much more discerning as they rely on citizen journalism for everyday matters.
Overall, citizen journalism is critical to the flow of information in Indonesia as a whole. Due to the lack of reliable content in regular newsfeeds, citizens have come to rely on the information provided on platforms such as Pasangmata and Kompasiana, leading to a very different culture than that observed in western society.
Credit for featured image: Giphy
References Hadi, I., Setiawan, A., Yoanita, D. and Aritonang, A., 2019. The Meaning of Sharing Information in Citizen Journalism. 4th Technology Innovation Management and Engineering Science International Conference (TIMES-iCON) Technology Innovation Management and Engineering Science International Conference (TIMES-iCON), pp.1-5. Syahputra, I. and Ritonga, R., 2019. Citizen Journalism and Public Participation in the Era of New Media in Indonesia: From Street to Tweet. Media and Communication, 7(3), pp.79-90.