Getting defensive on National Press Day

Oh the sad, sad decline of journalism. The Jakarta Post’s editorial today (below) makes a spirited attempt at diagnosing what ails journalism in this country.

It parades the usual culprits – the internet, broadcast channels, corporations buying into the media and even – for a brief moment – journalists themselves. “Professionalism is so sorely lacking today that, unless they get their act together, journalists will be the ones who are killing their own profession,” the Post asked.

But then it stops short of a close examination of its major decision makers and went on to put out a begging bowl, asking if anyone is willing to invest in training journalists so that they woudl be more competitive.

Unspun thinks this is a bit of a cop out and the Post should have delved in depth about the failure of the profession, specifically its senior journalists, to cure itself.

It has always been a source of wonder to Unspun and some hard boiled journalistic old timers how detached the senior editors, who should know better and an do better, approach the performance of the profession and their respective news organizations.

These editors have had lots of training and exposure, thanks to scholarships, fellowships and all sorts of exchange programs courtesy of Embassies and foreign governments. Many of them have gone on prestigious fellowships like Nieman and others.

Yet for all the exposure they have had, when they come back to Jakarta, what sort of personal responsibility do they take in ensuring that their journalists live up to professional standards?How many of them would take personal responsibility for failing to lead their news organizations to higher standards?

And how many of them will be contented receiving honorariums as they do the circuit opining their tired old ideas that do not get at the root of the problem of how dismal the journalism profession is in Indonesia?

Editorial: Investing in journalism

The Jakarta Post | Mon, 02/09/2009 10:35 AM | Opinion

If you are a journalist in Indonesia, there is really little to celebrate but plenty to be worried about on National Press Day today. The future of our profession is in doubt because journalism, which has thrived on bad news, is now being bombarded by bad news about itself.

Journalism is coming under attack from left and right, inside and out. Newspapers, which gave journalists their first platform, are no longer the main drivers of news. That role has now been fully taken over by television, the Internet and radio, all of which give news literally as it happens and in audio-visual format. Abroad, newspapers are closing down. In Indonesia, newspaper readership stagnates at best.

Broadcast journalists do not fare all that much better. News programs have been squeezed out of the peak hours by the more profitable entertainment programs. Relegated to unsocial hours, news has been reduced to one-sentence tickers at the bottom of your TV screen, or a-few-second sound bytes.

The Internet may have democratized the news industry and allowed more players, but almost anything goes on the web today, so much so that it undermines the one thing that has made journalism in the past a public service profession: credibility.

The increasing corporatization of the media industry meanwhile is forcing editors to compromise on principles to meet the bottom-line targets.

Read more here

2 thoughts on “Getting defensive on National Press Day

Add yours

  1. Very interesting. Some good points you have there Unspun. I also believe it is not lack of training.
    Here’s my take if I may: the problem is not that the quality of journalism is going down. There are many credible journalists out there, and I am sure you’ve met most of them personally too.

    The problem is we call everything churned out by the media as journalism. It is not. Trashy newspapers for instance. Is that journalism? No. Gossip news on TV? That’s not journalism. People stalking celebrities for cheap news? They are not journalists.

    Media does not equal to journalism. It’s the content. Not the media.
    Which is why the mainstream media feels threatened. There are many occasions where you can find better journalism in free blogs rather than newspapers.
    if they can’t even compete with blogs, do they deserve to survive? (or an investment?)


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Blog at

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: