Media bias in Indonesia presidential elections


The growth of Indonesian democracy is currently being impacted by the increasingly rapid advancement of information and technology. According to data from Indonesia’s BPS (Central Statistics Agency), the number of internet users has been rising every year. In 2019, there were 132.7 billion internet users in Indonesia out of a total population of 262.0 billion, approximately half of the country’s population. With the passage of time, the internet has evolved into a tool used by politicians for their campaigning. In addition, a significant portion of the media in Indonesia is controlled by political parties, as is the case with the online print publication Media Indonesia, whose chief executive officer is Surya Paloh, as well as chairman of the Nasdem Party (a party in Indonesia). Also included are the Jurnas media, whose primary supporter is the Democratic Party politician Gita Wirjawan, and Kedaulatan Rakyat media, which is owned by Idham Samawi, the Central board of (DPP) PDI Perjuangan Party, and numerous there others print and broadcast outlets and through Television.

The ownership of a media company by a politician is so unavoidably widespread worldwide, not just in Indonesia. However, does this ownership have any impact on the development of democracy there specifically?. The media had a significant impact on Indonesia’s presidential election. The news that the mass media broadcasts has the ability to influence public opinion. However, the existence of media bias can result in a number of issues with the democratic process, such as the occurrence of misinformation, the dissemination of unbalanced opinions, views that diverge from the reality that exists, and even conflicts.

Media and Public Bias

The year leading up to Indonesia’s presidential election has seen a rise in media bias. Through news that is disseminated in the mass media, this bias generates a lot of misinformation, tension, and debate in society. In particular when it comes to political problems, the mass media has the ability to sway public opinion through the use of event framing tactics in the news. According to Robert Entman’s definition of framing (Entman, 1993), news is created by choosing and emphasizing particular elements of a perceived reality in accordance with the demands of the audience. Entman contends in his research that media frames are not necessarily objective but instead represent the interests of those in authority; in the context of Indonesia’s presidential elections, this frequently manifests itself in the use of political reporting, sensationalism, and selective reporting. Media sources sometimes present news in a biased manner by focusing on topics or occurrences that pertain to a particular presidential contender while downplaying or disregarding other information. This will undoubtedly result in perceptions that diverge from the landscape of what is actually happening and sway public opinion in favor of the person in the picture of the news narration.

Additionally, the term “media bias” typically refers to sensationalism or the use of language that is accompanied by dramatic and exaggerated images. It may make people feel as though certain political events are urgent. Partisan reporting, in which the media overtly promotes one candidate, can affect the election process by reaffirming preconceived notions and can have a big impact on the public’s perception of the candidate or the opposition candidates. A biased media may be harmful to the democratic process because it can lead to confusion over the facts, inaccurate perceptions of the political scene, and public opinion that favors a certain candidate or political party. Due to information gained through media that is not impartial, this may eventually undermine the legitimacy of the political process and erode public trust as well as public faith in democratic institutions.

Media Independence

The mass media has unquestionably enforceable norms for generating a journalistic product when spreading information to the general public, particularly when it comes to delivering political news to the people. One of them is by using the public interest as the cornerstone for making journalistic information news. The ideals of impartiality and independence must be preserved in all journalistic endeavors. The media is the fourth pillar of a democracy, after the executive, legislative, and judicial branches, and should serve as a watchdog. The definition of independent includes independent journalistic philosophy, as well as being truthful, balanced, and unbiased to one side aside from the public interest namely the monitoring group. The media plays a role in keeping everyone at a distance. Voicing the public interest in legal services, governance, and the role of the legislature.

Additionally, Indonesia will hold presidential elections in 2024, which are only a year away. In order to ensure that the circumstances surrounding the previous election are not repeated, it is crucial that the media play a significant role in disseminating neutral, accurate information. Consequently, the role of the media is crucial in determining Indonesia’s future. as long as the media fulfills its obligations in line with its values for preserving democracy.

Nailul Fathul Wafiq
Nailul Fathul Wafiq
Nailul Fathul Wafiq is an undergraduate student of international relations at the Islamic University of Indonesia, taking an interest in international economic studies, trade and investment, international media communication, and analysis of the impact of government policy on public society. He also focuses on the dynamics and development of some regions, especially in Southeast Asia and Pacific Asia.


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