Media Bias in Covering the Tsunami in Aceh

Harsono, Andreas
March 2005
Nieman Reports;Spring2005, Vol. 59 Issue 1, p69
This article criticizes the attitude of journalists based in Jakarta, Indonesia toward news stories and events related to the province of Aceh. Indonesian media are narrow-minded whey they are required to cover anything that relates to stubborn territories like Aceh, Papua or East Timor. When the tsunami hit Aceh, Indonesian reporters rush to cover the suffering of the Acehnese. The tsunami raised a genuine solidarity among many Indonesians. However, just a week after the tsunami, Indonesian media bias against what they claim to be foreigners and Christianization began to appear. They proposed the control the arrival of U.S., Australian and foreign troops as well as international aid workers as they might help to Christianize the Muslim Acehnese. Statements issued against the presence of foreign troops in the province irritated the Acehnese who organized a street rally in Jakarta to demand the retention of foreign troops and foreign aid workers. However, the street rally was not reported by the Indonesia media. In mainstream news reports, the innuendo was palpable that relief services that had come to Indonesia were motivated by religious considerations and nationalistic factors.


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