Coronavirus outbreak: How the media navigates the current situation in Indonesia

Coronavirus outbreak: How the media navigates the current situation in Indonesia

Less than three weeks after recording its first case, Indonesia has now reported 514 cases and 48 deaths, the highest in Southeast Asia. So how the media and journalists in Indonesia navigate the current situation in Indonesia?

Indonesia is bracing for a spike in cases of coronavirus infection. Less than three weeks after recording its first case, the world’s fourth most populous country has now reported 514 cases and 48 deaths, the highest in Southeast Asia.

Its capital, Jakarta, also declared a two-week state of emergency last weekend, forcing lots of companies including media outlets to implements a work from home policy and improved the self-awareness of social distancing.

So how are the media and journalists in Indonesia navigating the current situation? Here is a selection of responses from journalists from various media outlets in Indonesia.

Adi Prinantyo, Managing Editor of KOMPAS
We've reduced meetings. Usually, there are two editorial meetings at 10am and 4pm but now we only have one meeting at 2pm. KOMPAS reporters are not obligated to come to the office after interviews and field reportages. They also need to be careful when conducting interviews or observations. Hopefully, it will reduce the risks. 

There are still some event invitations in the middle of the COVID-19 outbreak. So, we have to be alert to decide whether we will cover it or not. Finally, we don’t cover events attended by many people. The data can be covered by phone interviews, emails, or WhatsApp, as long as we can be sure about the accuracy. For us, journalists' safety is the most important thing.

Evi Mariani, Managing Editor of The Jakarta Post
We have instructed those who can work from home to work from home. This includes most editors and some reporters. A few reporters and photographers that have to go out in the field should practice social distancing, wash their hands often and avoid public transportation. We also have instructed a number of reporters who had come into contact with Transportation Minister Budi Karya to self-quarantine for 28 days from their last contact with the minister.

Our biggest challenge in covering COVID-19 is dealing with opaque communication from the government. It is difficult to get clear information on the latest COVID-19 situation.

Darojatun, VP Operations and Editor in Chief, and
I have several WhatsApps groups with peers from other publishers and we felt that government did not react properly. However, thank God, everything has changed and everything is going in the right direction now. We must support our local and national leader by working from home and I think it won't hurt the media industry since it goes for everybody. My bold message for my field journalists is don't try to be a hero and push themselves to get exclusive raw news, since we never know how free our sources are from COVID-19. Our health and safety are the main priorities right now. 

On the other hand, the main obstacle for sports media is the fact that every single football league and sports event being canceled right now. So, we try to dig from other sources and make more features or soft news related to COVID-19 and different trending topics. No need for us to worry too much, just keep going and keep making smart choices, think bigger because it's about life. 

Elisa Valenta Sari, Senior Journalist at Forbes Indonesia
We had already anticipated the disease outbreak since mid February actually. We are a printed publication and because of that, we have to be clever and make a stock of many articles. We have to anticipate should the pandemic gets worse and we don't get the interview schedule.

Teams coordinate through group chat. And if the source does not want to be interviewed face to face, we offer an audiovisual interview option via Skype / Zoom.

Lalu Rahadian, Editor at Lokadata
A lot of work was co-ordinated last Friday. So my office has decided to implement a work from home policy from Friday. All coordination depends on our WhatsApp group. The secretary arranges the job's list for editors, reporters, and multimedia.

It is very challenging to find statements from sources in this condition. Even though the government has facilitated live streaming for the press conference.

Angga Bratadharma, Economic Editor of Medcom
I still continue to carry out work activities as usual, with the editorial crew working from home as directed by the government. We still have to report news for our readers, especially those related to the coronavirus outbreak. We are using WhatsApp and other social media platforms for coordination, to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

The challenge is verifying or checking the information that appears from outside government. It is important this is done, to sort out which news is clear and contains news value to be reported to the public. We hope people can get accurate news, not hoax information. Also, keep trying to maintain your personal health, because 'life is better than news'.

Adyaksa Vidi, Sports Editor of
In my office, we are working normally. Most of us work from home, including reporters. Some of the photographers are still on the field but only for urgent coverage.

We communicate through WhatsApp, but there are also meetings that are conducted via video call. We have to find news by calling or emailing the sources. Sometimes, we also got a press release. Apart from that, we are also watching live broadcasts from TV when there is breaking news.

Elly Simanjuntak, Enrichment Director Obsession Media Group
We decided to work from home until the end of March. However, there is no restriction if some people still want to work in the office. To suppress the spread of COVID-19, we also educate readers to be able to work from home. Hopefully, COVID-19 can quickly vanish from this country.

Livia Kristianti, Reporter at ANTARA News
Since it has been decided that ANTARA News reporters will work from home until 5th April, I have to get used to watching TV to get quotes for stories. It has only been two days but it feels like it's been a week. Thankfully there is Twitter, so I can monitor what's happening without going out in public.

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  • Adi Prinantyo
  • Evi Mariani Sofian
  • Angga Bratadharma
  • Elisa Valenta Sari
  • Elly Simanjuntak
  • Lalu Rahadian
  • Adyaksa Vidi
  • Darojatun
  • Livia Kristianti
  • Telum Media
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