In commemoration of National Press Day, LP3ES held a Forum of 100 Socio-Political Scientists held entitled “Bringing Quality Journalism in the Midst of a Pandemic, Exposure to the Digital Revolution and Decline of Democracy” on Tuesday, February 9, 2021.
Director of the Center for Media and Democracy LP3ES, Wijayanto, mentioned three press challenges in the Pandemic era. First, the political economy of the media conglomerate. Second, talking and click-bait journalism culture. Third, the manipulation of public opinion on social media occurred in five political cases in Indonesia (2019 Presidential Election, Revision of the KPK Law, New Normal, Omnibus Law, and Simultaneous Pilkada (Distric Head Election)). In the midst of the rate of democratic regression in Indonesia, the press should be an institution that plays a role in restraining the rate of regression and encouraging the realization of democratic consolidation.
Ninuk Mardiana Pambudy, senior editor of Harian Kompas, in terms of media practitioners, explained that the pandemic caused media revenue from advertising to drop dramatically. So it was not surprising that many print media went out of business during the Pandemic, only turning to online media. This digital transformation also required high funding, especially for IT management and maintenance, in addition to the problem of limited human resources in the IT field. Media competition was not only happened among digital fellow but new media that were turning online.
Budi Setyarso also responded by explaining the challenges faced by the press in the midst of the weakening situation of democracy during the pandemic. In line with this, Nurul Hasfi, a communication expert from Universitas Diponegoro, reiterated how the Covid-19 pandemic was a formidable challenge for the press media. Print media were experiencing the impact of the Pandemic. One of them was Koran Tempo, which had completely switched to digital and the Indopos newspaper had closed, both print and digital. Suara Pembaruan also had stopped printing.
“The challenges of the press and democracy during the pandemic could be seen from various aspects. First, in terms of the political environment, there were press subsidies from the government and advertising funds from the government. There was a proposal from the Press Council for the Government in the form of a press subsidy to support the press during the Pandemic, then there was a fellowship called “Ubah Laku” for journalists where the government gave a sum of money in return for news about Covid-19,” he said.
Meanwhile, Herlambang P. Wiratratman conveyed several crucial things experienced by journalists related to human rights violations. There was an increase in violence experienced by journalists which reached 117 cases during 2020. Then, there were also digital attacks in the form of internet shutdown cases in Papua, the hacking of Tempo and Tirto sites, as well as digital doxing or persecution.