Prophetic Press, is it Possible or Just Daydream?

Tuesday, 09 February 2016 , 22:00:00 WIB - Opinions

Reporters at the Chiropractic First clinic that was sealed by the Public Order Unit (Satpol PP) in Jakarta, Wednesday (13/1). (ANTARA)

Writer: Usman Abdhali Watik *)

Journalism writing has become less and less meaningful lately, with happenings that are irrelevant being treated as crucial news, events that are not worth the attention being promoted into the main show and less relevant occurrences being turned into ‘must-reads’. Meanwhile, events that are important are ignored.

The press, who are supposed to ‘serve healthy and nutritious menus of news,' seems to have lost their way and their sense of priorities, forgetting which news is important and healthy for the public, since all they focus on now is creating sensation and then its done with today.

So, it is little wonder that, since the Reformation euphoria, the Indonesian press has not made any significant contribution that can make them proud. The only contribution they can pat on their own backs for is to the freedom of the press, through their coverage of ‘rotten’ of corrupt bureaucrats and political elites.

The press seems helpless when people criticize them for their absence in several crucial events: ‘where was the press when the government frustrated farmers by importing rice? Where was the press hiding when the Minister of Marine and Fishery caused anxiety among fishermen and their family by announcing a moratorium? Where for a decent and dignified life in a country who claims she upholds the value of noble character? The press deserves with their apparatus (the journalists, editors, gatekeepers, editorial team, media businesspeople and journalist associations) deserve to be criticized heavily.

Aware that such climate has been created, media stakeholders need to be told off and have their ears tweaked if necessary. They need to wake up from their sound sleep on their honeymoon bed between capitalism, who only seek profit, and amnesia of public interest and sensitivity.

The public has the rights to scream and express their anger at the national press in order to end the journalism works that smack of laziness and make the reporters convey news that brings energy and raises fighting spirit to make changes that will improve the people’s welfare.

Such duty and responsibility may be called prophetic press, which is the press that adopts the values of faith and devotion in performing their journalistic work, with the end goal of creating a glorious civilization.

For instance, a reporter who is writing about the eviction of street vendors should not merely focus on the event. They should report deeper to help the public understand the actual situation and the problem, and provide inputs, bearing in mind that the government cannot solve the problems of the nation alone.

The effect would be earthshaking if all the more or less 50,000 journalists in Indonesia perform their prophetic role.

Unfortunately, that hope is obstructed by a ‘concrete wall that seems impossible to bring down’, namely the investors or the capitalists. It can’t be denied that the media industry cannot be separated from the business world; the press would have energy when there’s money. No money means they would fall sick or even die.

Although, some investors have the heart to assume the prophetic role.

To celebrate the National Press Day 2016, I would like to ask the press across Indonesia to contribute as great as they can for the welfare of the people. Good protect you and keep you healthy in assuming your noble task. Happy National Press Day!

*) The writer is an alumnus of the University of Indonesia, Communication Studies Postgraduate Program, and is now Chairman of the Central Information Commission 2011-2012.