Jakarta, September 14, 2021 – A number of journalists from Southeast Asia will exchange their views about disinformation and democracy issues in the region during a webinar and online workshop of Journalism and Democracy in the Age of Pandemic and Disinformation, organized by the Indonesian Association for Media Development (PPMN).
The event will be held for four days, on September 15 and 16, as well as on September 22 and 23, 2021, with support from the Association for Elections and Democracy (Perludem) under the program of The Asia-Pacific Regional Support for Elections and Political Transitions (RESPECT).
A public discussion about the challenge for media in producing political and election issues amid disinformation will be the opening session in the event, where a number of experienced journalists from Southeast Asian countries will take part.
Among the participating journalists in this event are the Executive Director of Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ), Carmella S. Fonbuena; TEMPO Executive Editor, Yandrie Arvian; and The Isaan Record Thailand Editor, Hathairat Phaholtap. The founder of Data-N Malaysia, Kuek Ser Kuang Keng, will lead the online workshop on data journalism.
On Wednesday, September 22, 2021, the workshop will be continued by presenting the Executive Director of the Cambodian Center for Independent Media (CCIM), Danilo Caspe and Managing Editor of Cj.my, Maran Perianen. In this session, the speakers will share about skills and experiences on how citizen journalism is practiced in their respective countries. This series of webinar will be concluded with a public discussion highlighting the condition of press freedom in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic and the announcement of the winners of the 2021 ExcEl Award Competition.
Speakers in the last session, Thursday, September 23, 2021, are Gemma B. Mendoza (Rappler/Philippines), Anita Wahid (Mafindo/Indonesia) and Zikri Kamarulzaman, Malaysiakini News Editor (Malaysia). One of the speakers, Gemma, will reveal how journalists in the Philippines struggle to achieve press freedom.
The Press Freedom Index released by Reporters Without Borders in April 2021 shows a poor portrait of press freedom in three-quarters of 180 countries.
In Southeast Asia, Vietnam ranked the lowest in terms of press freedom, while Timor Leste was at the top position with a press freedom index score of 29.11 points, followed by Indonesia with 37.4 and Malaysia that gained 39.47. Thailand and the Philippines were behind Malaysia, with the respective scores of 45.22 and 45.64.
Therefore, according to the Executive Director of PPMN, Eni Mulia, the role of the media in the midst of this ongoing pandemic is very important. Journalists must be able to ensure the credibility of the news before it is published.
“The pandemic exacerbated the condition of the media, which had previously been disrupted by various problems. But journalism and the media must continue to work their best to fulfill the right to information that is important and of high quality and is very likely to affect the safety of citizens in a critical situation like today,” said Eni, Monday, September 13, 2021.
Through this webinar and online training, Eni hopes that the community will support journalistic work. “It takes concern from all parties, including citizens, to be able to sort out and support quality media and information to maintain the continuity of democracy,” she said.
Meanwhile, the Chief of Party (CoP) RESPECT, Theresia Joice Damayanti, said that she was delighted to have another opportunity to take part in the activities organized by PPMN and Perludem. The partnership between Perludem and PPMN in the RESPECT Program is in recognition of the important role of the media to support election integrity, which is the necessary foundation of democracy.
“The RESPECT program supports and provides avenues for the journalists to integrate journalism into democracy processes to ensure public get accountable information they need to choose a right direction for their nation. During these uncertain times of the coronavirus pandemic, the program also supports activities to increase the ability and knowledge of journalists in doing coverage with new ways of reporting through cross- learning workshops and this regional seminar,” said Joice, on Monday, September 13, 2021.
Previously, RESPECT established a partnership with PPMN to launch the Datatalk.asia website in early February 2021. Datatalk.asia is a portal that contains open data on elections in Southeast Asia, particularly voter data, election results and violations in Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines.
This collaborative work, according to Joice, is the institution’s commitment to enhance the role of the mass media in guarding the democratization process, including general elections in the region.
“The media can provide timely and important information about elections and electoral contestants as well as independent verification of the electoral process, investigative features that expose electoral corruption, surveys and polling, and a platform that can support public pressure for key principles of election integrity.,” she added.
This article was originally published by the Indonesian Association for Media Development (PPMN).It was republished on Radio Rakambia website Redi Media Timor – Leste (RMTL) in English (Timor – Leste Media Networking) with permission trough of news collaboration.