Amidst hate speech, hoaxes and fake news, CIPG report finds that Indonesian media played it safe during 2019 presidential election coverage

Did the proliferation of hate speech, hoaxes and fake news affect the result of Indonesia’s 2019 presidential elections? Was the media able to fact check their own news and coverage?

These are some of the questions that the report How Do Indonesian Media Portray the 2019 Presidential Debate? attempted to answer. Developed by the Center for Innovation Policy and Governance (CIPG) with support from the Association for Progressive Communications (APC), the report highlighted the proliferation of hate speech, hoaxes and fake news during this important time in Indonesia’s history. 

The 2019 presidential elections recorded a total of 190 million voters – the highest voter turnout in the history of the nation. Seen by many as the most complicated election season the country had to face, the event also inspired a rapid rise in hate speech, hoaxes and fake news, with the Ministry of Communication and Informatics recording a total of 1,224 cases of fake news and hoaxes from August 2018 to March 2019. Most of this content was related to politics and governance. 

Using a qualitative and quantitative approach, the researchers conducted a discourse network analysis to generate quantitative data on media reports and coverage. This was followed up with deep-dive interviews with journalists and media figures. 

The report found that the media played it safe during coverage of the 2019 presidential elections. Reporting was limited and the media rarely provided in-depth analysis of the events, leaving the public to decide on their own. The media were particularly cautious when reporting on news related to religious intolerance, measuring whether articles were provocative or not and what the impact of the news would be before publishing. However, the report also found that the media in focus in the study have been able to develop a robust fact-checking mechanism on the content they put out, and this has helped the general public navigate through a sea of inaccurate and biased reports. Finally, with the media market becoming more competitive, the report states that media organisations in Indonesia have found it harder to stay true to values of journalism and reporting in the light of protecting media stance both politically as well as in terms of their economic interests. 

Access the full report here.


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