2020 has been a year unlike any others for most of us due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This is true for journalists in Indonesia as well. The restrictions on travel, the additional health safety protocols, uncertainly of the financial situations of many media outlets all takes a toll on the physical and emotional health of journalists and their ability to perform their professional duties.
But the challenges have not stopped a group of Indonesian journalists to continue to bring news about the pandemic and its various impact on the society. These reporting have been collected in the book “Cerita di Balik Pandemi” (Stories behind the Pandemic). It is a collection of 20 journalistic works on the COVID-19 pandemic in Indonesia with stories originated from several regions, from Jambi to Nabire, Papua.
The anthology published by the Alliance of Independent Journalists of Indonesia (AJI) with the support of UNESCO touches on the issues of health, economic impact, the problems faced by marginalized groups in the coronavirus era.
“This programme helped us to support some of the journalists to be able to continue to do their work and survive during this pandemic,” said Eva Danayanti, the Executive Director of AJI.
“Through this program, we also learn many things related health issue. In covering COVID19, journalist facing difficulties in understanding some technical terms. It has influenced their reporting quality, since they could not make a good analysis,” noted Bayu Wardhana, member of AJI.
The journalists who participated in this anthology also noted the challenges for journalism during this period including the lack of access to information. “People do not know the utilization of the budget, how they allocated it,” said Yunita Kaunar, a contributor in the publication.
UNESCO is the United Nations specialized agency that promotes freedom of expression, press freedom, safety of journalists, and access to information which is a crucial component to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) including Goal 16.