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The Credibility of News Portal in Indonesia: An Exploratory Study

THE CREDIBILITY OF NEWS PORTAL IN INDONESIA: An Exploratory Study


Sherly Haristya1, Hersinta2, Fiona Suwana2, Indrati Kurniana2 dosen di STIKOM The London School of Public Relations, Jakarta 2 dosen di STIKOM The London School of Public Relations, Jakarta sherly.haristya@gmail.com; hera.utoyo@gmail.com; fsuwana@yahoo.com; indrati_k@yahoo.com
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Abstract In journal publications and academic references shown that instead of defining what makes news appealing, what is widely researched is how a media is perceived and measured as credible compare to other media. Using similar approaches, this paper is exploring whether credibility also takes place in Indonesia particularly relating to the unresolved issues on media online (such as timeliness, interactivity, accuracy, privacy) or traditional publication on the Internet within Indonesian press system. This survey can be considered as a continuation from previous research on the searching of information seeking activity in consuming online news by digital native users. It is also as part of an effort to enrich the quality media and journalism studies conducted in other countries considering the nature of the Internet that can across borders and cover globally. By using similar approach about the concept of credibility from Gaziano and McGrath (Rubin, 2004), the result of this survey shows consistency with our proposal that: (1) there is credibility issues on news portal or media online in Indonesia media credibility, (2) perception of some dimension of credibility from Indonesia digital native users is different from other group of user. There are two dimensions which has highest score than other dimensions, which could lead to further research, in order to find out the consistency whether these two dimensions were representing the online news credibility in Indonesia. Further research also will be needed to explore whether media literacy of the Internet users were affecting their perspectives on online news credibility. Keywords: credibility, news portal

The Credibility of News Portal in Indonesia: An Exploratory Study

Introduction The discussion about media in all its forms have always been an interesting one. From the perspectives of journalism and communication studies, it is always debatable on how media is playing its role within a society. Then from business point of view, all efforts in publishing news, must focus in meeting and exceeding what is the most appealing to its reader or audience. Defining what is the most appealing news that meet and exceed the reader or audience expectation, will also have its challenges. The challenges become even more complex based on several recent researches in relation to the development of internet and the supporting technologies. In those research, the conclusion also challenged our perception of what is a media. This development of internet usage also can be seen in Indonesia. Several recent publications mentioned this progress of changes does happen in Indonesia. Kompas, in its edition dated 7 February 2011, shared their recent survey on media and the level of trust towards various listed media that the respondents' use as sources in searching news/information. Across three group respondents by age 17-35, 36-50, above 50 years old - all of them have mentioned that television/radio is the most trusted as reference/sources in accessing/getting news or information, that is 35.5%, 46.3%, 61.5% each respectively. The second trusted sources, is then different for respondents age 17-35 years old, which has more trust to Internet (32.3%) compare to newspaper/magazine (30.5%). While for the respondents of 36-50 years old as well as repondents above 50 years old, they are more trust to newspaper/magazine (34.6%, 29.2% respectively), and the least trust is Internet (16.0%, 5.7% respectively). Roy Morgan Research, published in its website as well as an article in the Jakarta Post, mentioned that Indonesia is reading less and watching more. The trend in using any television for the last 7 days showing a solid stable over almost a period of five years time. The survey
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The Credibility of News Portal in Indonesia: An Exploratory Study

then showing an inclining trend, for access to internet for at least monthly, and also showing inclining trend in regards to subscription to cable or Satellite TV. Also, according to Edelman Trust Barometer Research in Indonesia (2010), peoples trust in free content online sources were rising (43%) and also inclined in internet search engines such as Google (47%) comparing to television news coverage (42%) and news coverage on radio (35%). From previous research done by the same institution in 2007, it is found that web-based media already overtakes TV as most trustworthy information source. If we are discussing online media, there are some of the characteristics of online media that considered as improvement from the traditional media are: (1) online media gives audience the ability to explore the content and have a multimedia experience rather than just a text; (2) timeliness in online media not only providing a relatively recent news, but also give audience an access to different sources locally and globally; and (3) high level of interactive capability, which overall provides online media a better position compare to traditional media (Nozato, 2002) In Indonesia, starting with the fall of Orde Baru regime in 1998, which also marked with the issuance of new regulation in media publication, there is significant changes on the media industry in Indonesia. Some of major changes during this new era: (1) a trend of publishing a franchise media, (2) the business expansion from the non-media companies into the media industry, (3) the growing of multimedia industry (including Internet Service Provider) that is considered beneficial for the existing media industry player, (4) there is a phenomena for media industry to be listed in stock exchange, and (5) media publishing become more specialized aiming to niche audience (AJI Annual Report, 2001) Initially, online media in Indonesia is more acting as an alternative place for Indonesian public to express their opinion particularly during Suharto's era. Then as soon as the
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The Credibility of News Portal in Indonesia: An Exploratory Study

fall of Suharto in 1998, online media shows a sharp inclining growth, lead by news portal detik.com, which claimed that their income was only Rp 7 million per month, then by November 2000, it has become Rp 815 million per month (AJI Annual Report, 2001). Such growth is definitely attract big companies to enter the online news market. Among them are Lippo Group, launched satunet.com (November 1999), astaga.com (February 2000) and lippostar.com (August 2000). Also, there was catcha.com, one of biggest news portal in South East Asia in that period of time, tapping into Indonesia online news market (AJI Annual Report, 2001). However, these news portal are having financial difficulties and force them to business closure, except detik.com. Based on the same report, online media in Indonesia is divided into two categories based on their initial set up as media publishers. First category, are those online media that has a presence in the traditional printed media for example Republika, Kompas, Jawa Pos. Then in second category, are those online media that does not have a presence or affiliation with traditional printed media, such as detik.com, vivanews.com, although they might have another media company within their group, for example okezone.com of MNC group, that has television and radio as well as magazine and newspaper in their group. Having the fact that most public survey in Indonesia and Jakarta leading to the frequency and media choice instead of media credibility, could lead people expectation that frequent use of a medium is related to the credibility of a selected media. Rimmer and Weaver (1987), in their secondary analysis of the American Society of Newspaper Editors (ASNE) data, found that frequency of media exposure does not relate to media credibility. Further, they did note that media choice or preference showed some weak associations with the credibility measures They also suggested that there is a need to separate measures of frequency and measures of media preference or media reliance (Rubin, 2004).
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The Credibility of News Portal in Indonesia: An Exploratory Study

Therefore, to fill in the gap on those surveys in Indonesia of internet usage as medium of information and news dissemination, as well as online media in Indonesia, the authors purpose of this study is to investigate the online news credibility from the perspective of certain group of user in Indonesia. Literature Review Online news There are four characteristics of electronic communication that are specially relevant to news dissemination:
1. A single coding mechanism integrates writing, sound, image and video 2. An unlimited amount of diverse information objects can be accumulated in a single

textual space: electronic transmission favours bite-sized chunks of information in unbounded quantity.
3. The new means of communication results in different patterns of interaction, among

changing sets of interlocutors.


4. A different medium has different connotations. The word news can mean both

important or interesting recent happenings and information about such events, as in the mass media. News in this second sense is a social institution, largely defined by the form and distribution of traditional print and broadcast (as in be in the news, read/watch the news). Changes in form and distribution therefore change our concept of news (Aitchison & Lewis, 2003).

The Credibility of News Portal in Indonesia: An Exploratory Study

Furthermore, it is argued that there are certain advantages of online journalism which could lead audiences into having different perspectives relating to online media itself. Those advantages are (Foust, 2005): Audience Control: Online journalism allows the audience to be more flexible in choosing the news they want to consume 1. Nonlinearity: Online journalism allows each news to stand independently so that audience does not have to read in certain order to understand it. 2. Storage and retrieval: Online journalism allows the news to be stored and accessed easily by the audience 3. Unlimited Space: Online journalism allows the amount of news presented to the audience to become much more complete than any other media. 4. Immediacy: Online journalism allows information to be delivered quickly and directly to the audience 5. Multimedia Capability: Editorial team can include text, sounds, images, video, and other components within the news delivered. 6. Interactivity: Online journalism is promising an increase in audience participation

Online news and its credibility One main advantage of internet as medium of news distribution is the ability for user to do their own search and get abundant information in relatively short time compare to using traditional media, the user is receptive to whatever being fed by the editor who has selected and perform as the gatekeeper for the information being disseminated. Such capability of internet allow users to create and reach their own information seeking objective easily (Allan, 2006)

The Credibility of News Portal in Indonesia: An Exploratory Study

One study in USA by the Pew Research Centre (1998), showing that Internet user visit an online news website to find information that is not accesible from other media, that is also more comfortable and easy, and for a very specific information (Nozato, 2002). Papacharissi and Rubin (2000) identified information seeking as the main reason people using internet, while Sjoberg (1999) mentioned that information seeking is one of the reasons of Swedish teenager in using internet (Nabi & Oliver, 2009) At the same time when user of internet is growing rapidly, the credibility of online media is also being questioned. Previous research showing, that the frequency of university student visiting a library is decreasing, while overall the usage of internet as source of information is increasing (Lubans, 1998, 1999, Pew Research Center 2002; Shackleford, Thompson, & James, 1999 in Metzger, et al, 2003). There are several characteristics of the internet that relates to credibility and accuracy, such as lack of centralized control and regulation, prone to hack or other electronic sabotage and that it is relatively easy in uploading the content to a page on the web, as well as dissapearance of traditional media genre (Metzger, et al. 2003). Unlike other mass medium, a website does not have adequate centralized filter of information, compare to the number of information available on the internet itself (Flanagin & Metzger, 2000; Johnson & Kaye, 1998; Rieh & Belkin, 1998 in Metzger, et al, 2003) Although there are news portal website that also act to support the traditional media form - such as New York Times Online or MSNBC, which has formal gatekeeper in filtering information - most of news portal does not have such role. Majority of website does not have clear and transparant rules on their editorial review, which usually can be used in analyzing the news or information content and verifying the information factual posted on the web. Johnson and Kaye stated, it is the lack of editorial review on online news that has caused less social pressure and
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The Credibility of News Portal in Indonesia: An Exploratory Study

professionalism to guarantee the accuracy of information on the internet, compare to information that has source from traditional media (Metzger, et al, 2003). On top of that, there is also lack of policy and lack of clear regulation that has been issued by a governing body. Aside such debate on credibility of online media, some previous research mentioned that those who accessing information online has high trust on the information they accessed (Metzger, et al, 2003). Internet user perceived that political information on the internet is more credible compare to traditional sources (Johnson & Kaye, 1998). For those who are experienced user, they even tend to trust the content published on online media (Flanagin et al, 2000; Johnson et al, 2000; Schweiger, 2000). There is also no research finding yet that significantly can prove that internet as source of information is not as credible as television and radio. The most credible media, however, is newspapers (Flanagin et al, 2000; Schweiger, 2000). From survey conducted by Pew Research Center (1998), internet user think that a website from a media organization is not less accurate or has better accuracy compare to information from other traditional media published by different media (Metzger, et al, 2003). Research limitation This research is an exploratory study, thus we would like to highlight several limitations that we understand may impact to the result. Those limitations are: (1) the use of random convenience sample (2) the discussion and findings could be considered speculative, thus, it needs methodological variations as well as more replications to support the concept (3) the original sets was in English but the questionnaire is in Bahasa Indonesia, thus we anticipated some concepts might be lost in translation. Methodology
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The Credibility of News Portal in Indonesia: An Exploratory Study

Having those limitations above, we define the profile of respondent as those who are aged 17-35 years old and studying in an education institution across Jakarta greater area. We distributed questionnaires to 103 respondents who are readers of online media as well as print media. Questionnaires were distributed on November 2011. Findings and Discussion Credibility, as Gaziano and McGrath mentioned on their research on measuring the concept of credibility, has several dimensions. Those are: (1) fairness; (2) (un)bias; (3) telling the whole story; (4) accuracy; (5) respect for privacy; (6) watching out after people's interest; (7) concern for community well-being; (8) separation of fact and opinion; (9) reporter training level; (10) factuality; (11) concern for public interest; (12) trustworthiness. (Rubin, 2004: 237). One critic on measuring credibility concepts is whether credibility should be measured from the perspective of the receiver's (or the reader's) perception or from characteristics of the source (or the editor's and the reporter's). Again, as such study in Indonesia is still very limited, we are then using the recent survey conducted by Kompas and had been published in Kompas as part of our analysis. The survey mentioned that 32.3% of the respondent in age group of 1735 years old, considered internet as trusted sources. The same survey also stated that 57.1% of the respondent considered that media is oriented much for the media commercial interest itself while 36.3% consider that the media is concern for public interest. Thus, having such survey as the secondary data, we believe this public survey result is representing 3 from 12 items of Gaziano & McGrath credibility dimensions. Those three dimensions are: (1) factuality, (2) concern for public interest, (3) trustworthiness. Our research is then measuring the credibility from the perspective of the receiver's using only 9 items of Gaziano & McGrath credibility dimensions.
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The Credibility of News Portal in Indonesia: An Exploratory Study

This is also as part of the effort to explore further Haristya's finding on the searching activities of digital native user in getting their information and news. Haristya found that this group of user (digital native user is argued aged 17-35) is actively seeking the information and news in which during the process they become more selective, more utility oriented, more intentional, more critical, and has a higher level of involvement, compare to the use in traditional media. With such pattern, it will also important to know what are the factors and how does particular factor influencing this group of user in their information seeking activities.

Chart 1. Respondent opinion

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The Credibility of News Portal in Indonesia: An Exploratory Study

Based on respondents opinion, there are some dimensions considered more to agree/somewhat agree. It can be ranked from the higher one: (1) telling the whole story, (2) watching out people's interest, (3) separation of fact and opinion; (4) (un) biased; (5) respect for the privacy; (6) reporter training level; (7) accurate; (8) concern of community wellbeing; and (9) fairness. Besides that, we also can see the tendency that respondents opinion against each dimension is almost equally between agree to some of the dimensions, and disagree to some other dimensions. There is also significant percentage of respondent who is stating that they have no opinion on several dimensions. It seems there is a level of uncertainty from respondents opinion regarding news portals credibility. This uncertainty also can be seen in the dimension of watching out after peoples interest. In here, respondents stated agree/somewhat agree that the news portal meet their needs on fulfilling their interest. But on the other hand, the result shows a significant percentage of respondent who disagree/somewhat disagree that online news reflect the dimension of concern on community wellbeing. There is another dimension that shows significant percentages of respondent agree/somewhat agree, that news portal is telling the whole story, which represents one element of news credibility. Whereas the other dimension, respect for privacy, shows opposite result, which reflects that most respondent disagree that news portal is credible. When compared with previous study of online news credibility conducted by Santoso from University of Petra (2009) using reception analysis method to readers of detikcom, there are some similarities found. According to the study, respondents' opinions about the credibility still balance between good and less good. The result states that the news from the online site is reliable, valid, complete and in accordance with the facts. However, it still has weakness, which according to the respondents, online news is less accurate, less objective, less balanced and
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The Credibility of News Portal in Indonesia: An Exploratory Study

incite prejudice or some other meaning while reading (bias) (Santoso, 2009). Similarities between these studies are the respondents opinion on credibility dimension, they value the lowest one is fairness, and another dimension they value high is completeness. Hall (n.d.) said that news is one of the defining institutions of the information society. Its credibility derives from a set of values which are as much constructs of the media industries as are genre, style and form. The claims of the news media to values that guarantee impartiality, objectivity and, not least, veracity appear to be somehow self-evident and natural but they are, of course, both historical and cultural. They are determined by the social and cultural demands of the moment, by technology, and by the institutions they serve. Based on what Hall has said, the contradictory opinions found from this study and also from Santoso (2009) may be explained by the condition of the Indonesia media industry now, which currently tends to shift to the direction of market-driven journalism. In market-driven journalism, media coverage will shift from long-term social and political issues, to the human interest news that tends to fulfill personal needs of the audience (Rianto, 2005). According to McChesney (1998), media currently shift to news coverage in topics such as crime, sports and celebrity life, compared to previously, where they still did a coverage in the areas of politics (Rianto, 2005). Life style, health and hobbies are also issues that were the main interests of news makers. As a result, audience used to consume commercial news to fulfill their needs of information from the media. A study cited in McChesney (1998) states that the more people consume commercial news, then the lower the person's ability to understand political issues and public interest (Rianto, 2005). A study conducted in the United States which published in Kompas (2005) concerning the credibility of the media in the late 1990s confirmed this. In 1985, 41 percent of public in the U.S. believe in the press as an institution that concerned with people's interests. But in 1999,
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The Credibility of News Portal in Indonesia: An Exploratory Study

that number decreased to 21 percent (Rianto, 2005). From the study, we could see that the increasing level of media commercialization lowers the credibility of the media in the publics view. There is a rather comprehensive study on digital journalism credibility by Online News Association (2002), which states that most online news readers do not identify the credibility of online news is an issue, and most readers disagree that online news is regarded as the most trusted source. Whereas in Indonesia, based on surveys held by Kompas, Roy Morgan and Edelman, show a tendency that Internet become a trusted source. Having all these facts, we proposed that: (1) credibility is still an issue in Indonesia, and that leads to the question on which dimension of credibility regarded by Indonesian reader as the most important; (2) perception from the digital user only represent a certain group of audience, so there is a need to do a more comprehensive study that could represent a more broader audience in Indonesia, as well as to capture the main issue of online news in Indonesia. Conclusion Contradictory we found in this research lead to our proposal that credibility issue also takes place in Indonesia, which means what factors and how those factors are influencing credibility of online media in Indonesia need to be further investigated. Does certain group of users in Indonesia have their own sets of dimension of credibility particularly for online media? Why this group of users seems to have less concern on some dimensions? Does user knowledge and understanding about media industry, journalism ethics and standard, will affect their perception on the credibility of online media? Those are some issues that one can easily ask based on this exploratory study.

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The Credibility of News Portal in Indonesia: An Exploratory Study

The contradictory opinion also lead us to find out further about the penetration level as well as technology literacy and media literacy of Indonesian people. We did notice however, the frequency of audience use the online media or traditional media seems has no direct relation in their opinion on the credibility of the medium. This is also similar with the secondary analysis conducted by Rimmer and Weaver (1987) for the original research by Gaziano & McGrath (1986). Because of that, we proposed that technology literacy and media literacy can play as significant factors that could impact the level of credibility for online media. But considering this research is conducted in Indonesia at the beginning where government and telecommunication operator starting to optimize the usage of wireless connectivity as a mean for communication across Indonesian archipelago, so the related data or research is yet to be known and if there is reference about this data, it may not be available yet to the public. This study also shows that understanding media is a complex issue and the growing population in Indonesia provides a huge potential field for further study in any aspects of media and how they interact with their audience. It is our hope that this study will also lead into the need to have a better picture and in depth analysis of audience and media workers perception on the each dimension of credibility itself. Also, a further research while it is beneficial for the further development of Indonesian communication studies, a continuation in this research will also be useful for the policy maker in order to develop standard and code of ethics in online journalism. And a more comprehensive study on online news credibility will be useful for business community, such as advertiser and brand owner in developing a proper strategy to use online media that suitable with their need.

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The Credibility of News Portal in Indonesia: An Exploratory Study

References Abdulla, R. A., Garrison, B., Salwen, M., Driscoll, P., & Casey, D., (2002). The Credibility of Newspapers, Television News, and Online News. Paper presented to the Mass Communication and Society Division, Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication, Miami Beach, Fla. Aitchison, J & Lewis, D. M. (2003). New Media Language. London: Routledge. AJI Annual Report (2001). Euforia, Konsentrasi Modal & Tekanan Massa. AJI Indonesia, Agustus 2001. Allan, S. (2006). Online News. UK: Open University Press. Edelman Regional Stakeholder Study (2007). Presented on September 27, 2007, Jakarta Edelman Trust Barometer Research in Indonesia (2010) http://www.slideshare.net/indopacedelman/2010-edelman-trust-barometer Flanagin, A. J., & Metzgera, M. J. (2000). Perception of Internet Information Credibility. Journalism & Mass Communication Quaterly Vol. 77 No. 3, 515-540. Foust, C. J. (2005). Online Journalism: Principles and Practices of News for the Web. Arizona: Holcomb Hathaway Publishers. Hall, J.(n.d). Online Journalism. London: Pluto Press. Haristya, S., (2011). Information Seeking Activity in Consuming Online News by Digital Native Users. Unpublished master thesis, Universitas Indonesia, Depok. Metzgera, M. J. (2005). Understanding How Internet Users Make Sense of Credibility: A Review of the State of Our Knowledge and Recommendations for Theory, Policy, and Practice. Paper prepared for the Internet Credibility and the User Symposium, Seattle, WA. Metzgera, M. J., Flanagin, A. J., & Zwarunb, L. (2003). College Student Web Use, Perceptions of Information Credibility, and Verification Behavior. Computers & Education (41), 271-290. Nabi, R. L. & Oliver, M. B. (2009). Media Processes and Effect. USA: Sage Publications. Nozato, Y. (2002). Credibility of Online Newspapers. Paper presented at the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication Annual Convention, Washington, DC. Rianto, P. (2005). Jurnalisme dalam Tatanan Neoliberal dan Krisis Demokrasi. Jurnal Ilmu Sosial dan Ilmu Politik, Vol. 9, No. 1, (113-130). Roy Morgan Research Indonesia http://www.roymorgan.com/documents/indArticles/the_jakarta_post_article_199.pdf Rubin, R. B., Palmgreen, P., Sypher, H. E., (2004). Communication Research Measures. London: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
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The Credibility of News Portal in Indonesia: An Exploratory Study

Santoso, E.C, (2009). Kredibilitas Pemberitaan Portal Berita Detik.com, Sebuah Reception Analysis. Universitas Kristen Petra. Retrieved from Thesis Database http://digilib.petra.ac.id/ on January 10, 2012 Sultani. Jajak Pendapat Kompas: Dua Sisi Wajah Pers. (2011). Kompas, 7 Maret 2011. Suwardiman, Litbang Kompas. Kebebasan Berekspresi: Taring Media Massa di Ranah Politik. Kompas, 7 Maret 2011.

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