Indonesian press have failed to objectively cover the Jakarta governor’s race as reporters, editors and owners of some media outlets showed a clear preference for Joko Widodo in their coverage, the Indonesian Journalist Alliance (AJI) said.
Incumbent Governor Fauzi Bowo and his running mate Nachrowi Ramli have taken a beating in the press, the report said, while Joko and Basuki Tjahaja Purnama have emerged as media darlings.
The AJI analyzed one month of news coverage on the news websites Detik.com, Kompas.com, Vivanews.com and Okezone.com; the newspapers Warta Kota, Pos Kota, Indo Pos, Koran Jakarta, Republika, Kompas, Koran Tempo and Suara Pembaruan; and the television stations Metro TV, TV One, Jak TV and RCTI.
According to the results, the surveyed news outlets ran 121 negative stories about Fauzi between August and September 13. The same media organizations ran 90 negative stories about Joko.
“Foke topped negative news [in the results],” Ignatius Haryanto, a research consultant and director of the Institute for Press and Development Studies said on Sunday.
The report was consistent with a longer project conducted between June 1 and September 13, during which reporters wrote 260 negative stories about Fauzi and 172 about Joko.
When it came to positive stories, the news outlets ran 666 positive stories about Fauzi and 810 about Joko, according to the survey.
Fauzi’s campaign team described a muted response from Indonesian media when they pushed for positive stories about the incumbent governor.
“There is a bias as the politics have influenced everyone from the owners to the editors and all the way to the bottom with the reporters,” Andi Syafrani said, accusing some journalists of showing open support for Joko.
Andi claimed that the media jumped on mistakes made by Fauzi and Nachrowi without giving equal coverage to the good they do in the capital. Andi said that when reporters went with Fauzi to visit the victims of a massive fire in Karet, Central Jakarta, they only reported on an off-the-cuff comment made by the incumbent governor.
Fauzi told the community, most of which were recently left homeless by a large fire, to rebuild their homes in Solo, Central Java, if they didn’t support his re-election campaign. Andi said the comment was meant as a joke.
But the media ran with Fauzi’s comment, he said, while failing to report on the aid or help he had given the residents immediately before telling them to move away.
“The visit to the fire location and the aid given [was not covered], but one minute of joking dialogue became the headline,” Andi said. “They were the first candidates to visit [the victims].”
The head of Joko’s campaign team, Budi Purnomo, responded by saying that the positive coverage was not due to media bias but because of his candidate’s “sexiness” and campaign strategy.
Bekti Nugroho, of the Press Council, acknowledged that the media had a tendency to side with certain candidates.
“It has been warned during discussions of the Press Council that they should be independent,” Bekti said. “The Press Council has made statement and release on this, but it doesn’t mean media owners will realize [objectivity]. But until this moment, no campaign team has filed a complaint to the Press Council.”
One newspaper mentioned in the survey, Suara Pembaruan, is a sister publication of the Jakarta Globe under the BeritaSatu Media Holdings company. The Jakarta Globe reprints some stories and photographs from Suara Pembaruan in English.