Indonesian Press Still Has a Lot to Learn

It’s over now but its consequences may last more than we can fathom. The last presidential election proved to be the most destructive phase we have ever undergone ‎in the election history of the republic and also in the history of our national press.

In the previous two post-reform direct presidential elections (in 2004 and 2009), Indonesians had only ‎to choose one from 5 pairs of candidates. But this year, we only had two: Joko Widodo and Jusuf Kalla VS Prabowo Subianto and Hatta Rajasa. For this reason, the scale and intensity of polarization also mounted. Now the Indonesians are mainly segregated by their choice and it has never been this difficult to free them all from the spirit of political competition. Even for press which is supposed to remain neutral while performing their role as the fourth pillar of democracy, it is quite hard for them to stay untouchable from the‎ politics. That is what happens when these politicians happen to be business owners, prominent economic figures, entrepreneurs, etc. They are loaded with interests. And these interests proved to be more formidable than anthing else.

If you read a lot, you may know well that‎ Kompas.com, Tempo.co, Tribun News and The Jakarta Post implicitly and explicitly reveal their bias throughout the reporting by siding Jokowi. The Jakarta Post even published an editorial with the blatant advice for readers to support and vote for Jokowi. If you’re a Jokowi fan, you might like it even more. But if you want totally real and objective news, you simply had to stop wishing. It won’t happen anytime soon. At the same time, people with interests in Prabowo and Hatta Rajasa may turn to sites like VivaNews, Sindonews.com, Inilah.com and OkeZone.com.

Some news outlets, however, stay neutral and objective when it comes to reporting. Take JPNN (Jawa Pos News Network) and Indopos.co.id as two examples. These two are owned by entrepreneur cum bureaucrat Dahlan Iskan but it doesn’t necessarily mean the news is inclined to be in favor of Jokowi (in spite of the fact that Dahlan Iskan openly supports Jokowi)‎. Sadly, these are in fact truly rare.

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