Citizen Journalism and Media Pluralism in Indonesia
Yohanes Widodo, S.Sos, M.Sc
Atma Jaya Yogyakarta University
Published inConners, Thomas J., Frank Dhont, Mason C. Hoadley, and Adam D. Tyson, eds.2011.
Social Justice and Rule of Law: Addressingthe Growth of a Pluralist Indonesian Democracy.
Diponegoro University Press:Semarang.
This paper focuses on the contribution of citizen journalism to media pluralism in Indonesia through case studies of two citizen journalism projects, namely
initiated by the
initiated bycitizens in Makassar, South Sulawesi.The main challenge to media pluralism is concentration of ownership viaacquisitions and mergers. Such are considered dangerous for democracy because they limit the number of actors inthe media industry, thereby concentrating influence in the hands of a small group of businessmen. Manyconglomerates control or have substantial interestin the media, which can lead to conflicts of interest. Concentrationof ownership also leads to homogenization of content and a decline of journalistic quality. To counter this problemsince the 2000s there has emerged a citizen movement for alternative media facilitated by the Internet. Examples of these are the citizen journalism portals
As found in two the cases studies, citizen journalism contributes to media pluralism in that it: (1) enables citizens to take part in the democratic process and toform opinions on the basis of information about political, social and cultural developments, (2) publishesunderreported issues and invites citizen reporters to write on things not covered by mainstream media, (3) providesvarious topics, different points of view and a pluralistic choice of voices and access, (4) opens opportunities for passive readers to become active news providers, (5) offers a broad range of participation by various social groups,including minorities, and provides access to them, (6) accommodates content from diverse cultural backgrounds,hobbies, professions, and competence, and finally (7) opens space for citizens to participate in the exchange of information by reading, commenting on and writing opinions. Large scale citizen involvement is expected toaccelerate the flow of information and strengthen the foundations of democracy in national and state life.
Rapid change in thesocio-politicaldynamics ofIndonesia have altered themedia landscape. Before the 1998reforms,the media was authoritarian andmonopolistic.State domination of the mediais attested to by the numberof media bannedthrough revocation or cancelationofthePress Publication Business License(
Surat Ijin Usaha Penerbitan Pers,
At least thirty-twomedia experienced bans andgovernment warnings during the New Order regime.These include
Nusantara, Abadi, Indonesia Raya, Kami, Jakarta Times, Suluh Berita, Express, Wenang
Koran Mahasiswa UI Salemba
Tabloid Monitor, Kompas, Sinar Harapan,Merdeka, Pelita, The Indonesian Times, Sinar Pagi
Lukas Luwarso (2000) observes that thehistory of the press in Indonesia down to1998 was oneof pressure, intimidation,and banning. Year afteryearthe Indonesian press wasovershadowed by authorities andlaws, media owners, communities,and lawenforcers who could terminate the press anytime and imprisonjournalists(Astraatmaja2009).A similarsituation prevailed within broadcasing. Through
Televisi Republik Indonesia
Radio Republik Indonesia
(RRI) the Indonesian statedominated public information with programsof a propaganda nature. Both governmentaland private enterprises had becomeand