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“What’s Up With Our Media?” puts Indonesian news under the microscope

June 17, 2022 • By Billie Phillips
Image credit: Perludem YouTube channel

Indonesia’s media landscape is certainly one of extremes—it is both the largest news media market in southeast Asia and one of the most complex. Like most countries in the region, there are well-founded fears about fake news and defamation, and the impact both are having on the country’s democratic process. In an effort to support everyday news-watchers in Indonesia make sense of the headlines, International IDEA and Perludem have produced "Ada Apa dengan Media Kita?” (“What’s Up With Our Media?”), an innovative programme that introduces media literacy and political agendas to the Indonesian audience.

In each of the seven episodes, “What’s Up With Our Media?” explores one key news issue as well as an overview of the performance of the country’s top eight television networks over a one week period. The coverage of the key news, or thematic issue, is analysed through two criteria: the level of public interest reported by the news outlets and the balance of narrative perspectives amplified by the news outlets.These elements enable viewers to think critically about how a story is being communicated to them and consider whether any biases are subtly promoted. 

The Indonesian media environment is inextricably linked with big business tycoons—the eight biggest stations are owned by commercial entities with few restrictions placed on their news production models. This ownership element likely hampers the ability of the major Indonesian news outlets to act as a true fourth estate—can journalists report on political issues that impact their organization’s owners? 

International IDEA’s Senior Programme Manager, Adhy Aman, said the project was inspired by a similar programme in Australia, the ABC’s Media Watch.

"Living in Australia, where Rupert Murdoch's media 'empire' dominates, I witness first-hand how biased mainstream media can be. Looking at my own country, Indonesia, I am conscious of the fact that a few mainstream television channels are owned by politicians. Somebody needs to keep an eye on potential political biases in their programmes," he said. 

In the first episode, host Amalia Salabi tackles the influence of political dynasties over political coverage and breaks down how that impacts the audience’s perception of current affairs. In another, we examine the way major networks tried to leverage the Covid-19 pandemic to further their own political agendas. As the first programme of its’ kind in Indonesia, “What’s Up With Our Media?” is providing a much-needed insight into the world of media.


You can watch all seven episodes of “What’s Up With Our Media?” on YouTube here


About the authors

Billie Phillips
Communications Officer
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