Broadcasters censured for poor reporting during Jakarta attacks
Hans Nicholas Jong
The Jakarta Post
The Indonesian Broadcasting Commission (KPI) has reprimanded seven television stations and one radio station for inaccurate and inappropriate reporting of the terrorist attacks in Central Jakarta, which took place on Thursday.
On Friday, the KPI issued the reprimand to privately run news channel Metro TV, state-owned television station Televisi Republik Indonesia (TVRI), Trans 7 and Jakarta-based entertainment channel NET TV.
On Thursday, the KPI also reprimanded news channels TVOne, Indosiar and iNews, as well as news radio station Elshinta, for violating the commission's 2012 broadcasting guidelines.
'Some of these media outlets reported on yesterday's terror inaccurately, with sources that did not come from the authorities,' KPI deputy chairman Idy Muzayyad told The Jakarta Post on Friday.
Idy said TV stations such as TVRI, Metro TV, TVOne and iNews, as well as Elshinta radio station, were all guilty of spreading false news and rumors regarding the attacks.
'TVRI for instance broadcast news tickers saying that there were explosions in other areas [Palmerah in West Jakarta and Alam Sutera in South Tangerang],' Idy said.
Other TV stations, like TVOne, meanwhile, broadcast information saying that explosions took place in Slipi, Kuningan and Cikini, all in Jakarta. 'Hoax reports of explosions in Alam Sutera, Kuningan and Palmerah were being spread throughout social media but they gained credibility by being broadcast by these media outlets. These TV stations were supposed to counter these hoaxes, not spread them,' said Idy.
By spreading such false information, they helped to cause unnecessary fear among the public.
'The public doesn't need inaccurate information, no matter how fast it is,' Idy said.
Many residents of the city claimed the false information spread by the media had created panic. Indra Nugraha, a resident of Slipi, said he was alarmed after seeing the false information on TVOne. 'It was horrible. I panicked because I live in a kost [boarding house] right behind Slipi Jaya Mall,' he told the Post in Friday.
Indra said the hoax also caused his mother to worry. 'She immediately called me asking whether I was alright because I live in Slipi,' he said.
Apart from spreading false information, some of the TV stations were also given warnings for showing graphic, uncensored images.
'NET TV, for example, broadcast images of corpses. Even though it was from afar, but you could still see the blood flowing, which caused revulsion among viewers,' Idy said.
He said that TV stations should refrain from broadcasting images of dead bodies at all, even if they are blurred or pixelated. 'To convey the horror, one doesn't need to use the image of corpses,' said Idy.
Commenting on the warning, Metro TV editor-in-chief Putra Nababan said he would accept it.
Metro TV was given a warning by the KPI for broadcasting the false information that an explosion had occurred in Palmerah.
While the station did broadcast a statement from National Police spokesman Insp. Gen. Anton Charliyan who said the information needed further clarification, this statement was not included in the news tickers. 'It means that there are people who paid attention, so that's good,' he told the Post on Friday. 'If there's a correction, we'll accept it. It's not a problem for us.'
Putra said members of his news team had gone through all the procedures during the attacks.
'A few minutes after that, we called Anton and he denied [the information] and we displayed his denial in bold type, in that way people got the information [that there was no Palmerah explosion] from us,' he said.
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