By Luh De Suriyani
More than 20 independent community-media (indymedia) activists from across the country gathered on Oct. 21-22 in Pulau Serangan, Bali, to discuss how their movement could promote the aspirations of those ignored by mainstream media.
The participants included web-based media such as Desantara from Depok, West Java; Angkringan from Yogyakarta; and E-Tabloid from Aceh as well as community radio stations like Primadona FM from North Lombok and Horasuta FM from North Sumatra.
The discussions included issues surrounding the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community; the economy; public services; pluralism, and human rights.
Rere Krisdianto from Kanal News Room explained how victims of the Lapindo mud flow in Sidoarjo, East Java, could obtain information from the multi-platform media.
“Mainstream media outlets broadcast issues that are irrelevant and tend to be similar, such as whether or not the victims have received compensation,” he said.
Rere claimed that Kanal provided in depth and comprehensive information about the Lapindo incident and they championed the victims’ rights.
Kanal, through korbanlumpur.info, offers news, feature articles, opinion pieces, pictures and via Twitter — @korbanlapindo and Facebook it links to stories from mainstream media.
Kanal also established a community radio station to reach those without Internet access. The name of the radio station — Kanal Besuki Timur — was the name of one of the villages that is no longer in the area because of the affects of the mud. Kanal has also established a SMS service and to mark the four-year commemoration of the tragedy in 2010, Kanal launched a book that contained feature stories and poetry by local children.
Meanwhile, Amron Risdianto from Angkringan shared information about his community’s MK160 program, which mobilized people in Timbulharjo village in Bantul, Yogyakarta, to utilize SMS to exchange information.
Citizens send SMS — topics included environment, healthcare, budget allocation, etc. — to a server and the community forward them to the whole village. They also produce a bulletin that compiles all these messages, with prizes on offer.
“SMS technology combined with a database of the residents resulted in relative information and effective distribution,” Amron said.
Although the tariff for sending a SMS is higher than using the Internet, people are more familiar with SMS technology.
COMBINE Resource Institution and ICT Watch, the event organizer, said that a media bottleneck was apparent in Indonesia: although the number of media establishments had increased, they were owned by only a few.
The organizers said that this threatened the diversity of news content.
“We need alternative sources of information to ensure the voices of the real people are heard,” Imung Yuniardi, a comittee, said.