Media Ownership in the Digital Era in Indonesia – 14 Aug 2015

Media Ownership in the Digital Era in Indonesia – Dr Ross Tapsell (ANU)

Friday 14th Aug 2015 1:30pm-2:30pm
Where: Room 321, Level 3, Sidney Myer Asia Centre, The University of Melbourne

The media has been one of very few institutions that many foreign and Indonesian leaders, scholars and citizens have generally regarded positively in the post-reformasi era in Indonesia. However, digitalisation of media content has enabled extensive concentration and conglomeration of the industry. Media owners are wealthier and more politically powerful than they were ten years ago. The mainstream media was far more partisan in the 2014 elections than in those which preceded them. Meanwhile, Jokowi’s Presidency has so far been somewhat of a disappointment to many Indonesians who were hoping for significant reforms. How are they to express this disappointment, or bring about change themselves? Most Indonesians have little faith in the police or the justice system. The KPK is as weak as it has ever been, and enthusiasm for large street protests and demonstrations has declined. Digital media technologies, which partly assisted in bringing Jokowi to power, remains a key avenue, perhaps even the key avenue, where ‘ordinary’ Indonesians feel they have some autonomy in affecting change. Thus, a ‘battleground’ is being formed between elites asserting their influence through large conglomerates, and ordinary citizens using new digital platforms to encourage reforms. This presentation traces this new ‘battleground’, and explains its consequences for society, politics and freedom of expression in contemporary Indonesia.

Dr Ross Tapsell is a lecturer at the Australian National University’s College of Asia and the Pacific. He was a recipient of the Australian Government Endeavour Postdoctorate Award, where he conducted research on press freedom and media ownership in Indonesia. He has been a Visiting Fellow at The University of Indonesia, Airlangga University (Surabaya) and the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (Jakarta). He has also worked with The Jakarta Post and the Lombok Post. Ross began lecturing at the School of Culture, History and Language at the ANU in 2011.