Digital era has affected journalism practices in many aspects. Indonesian journalism has also changed along with the digital technology. Indonesian Press Board has recorded the country as having up to 1,755 news websites in 2017. The high number of websites has warned us as audience to be prepared in dealing with information. These were stated by lecturer from Faculty of Social and Political Sciences UGM, Kuskridho Ambardi, Ph.D, in a presentation titled Digital Journalism: The Contemporary Experience and Views of Indonesian Journalists.
According to Ambardi there were five trends of online media in Indonesia. First, emphasis on speed, second, truth in the making, third, trends towards sensationalism is a menu of the day, fourth, still focus on Jakarta and fifth, Indonesian online media often serve as public relations media and twist issues.
Related to the third trend that focuses on sensationalism, online media tend to put first sensasionality rather than accuracy of an information. “Media content may become unqualified because the audience is unqualified, too,” said Ambardi. This becomes the challenge for the audience to consume information.
Another speaker, Prof. Thomas Hanitzsch from Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München, Germany, in a presentation on Worlds of Journalism Study, said that one of the normative roles of journalism is as a watchdog.
“The position of journalism in the society is an important issue,” said Hanitzsch.
He said that journalistic role is the arena for actors to grab existence or transformation from the identity of journalism itself. Journalism is an arena full of interests of many people.
Hanitzsch has been invoved in journalism studies, one of those is Worlds of Journalism Study (WJS) between 2012-2016 which reviews the role of journalism in society. It covers autonomy roles to reporting, ethical views of journalists, trusts of public institution towards journalists, and journalism transformation in general. “Worlds of Journalism Study is a major study in communications that collected data from 67 countries,” said Hanitzsch as one of Principal Investigators of WJS for Germany.
Hanitzsch added that journalism has the role to mobilise social change and set up public agenda. But the role is also affected by the political regime of the country.
Ambardi and Hanitzsch presented their views in the seminar themed Contemporary Journalism in Digital Era on Monday (4/9) in Convention Hall, the Mandiri FISIPOL UGM Library. The seminar is part of series of World Class Professor (WCP) programme run by Centre for South East Asia Studies UGM in cooperation with Communication Department UGM to develop communication studies, particularly journalism.