The Jakarta Post
Age is nothing but a number and people are as old as they feel. Today, The Jakarta Post is celebrating its 37th anniversary, an age that many consider mature. This point in life often comes with a midlife crisis, in which people contemplate their direction in life and whether they have made the right choices. We are lucky not to have to ask those questions.
After all these years, the Post today is the same media outlet that began publication in the early days of
the 1980s, whose sole purpose has been to provide reliable information (and opinion) that would provide readers with unvarnished truth about the world.
Under the New Order, our drive to cut through the noise and jargon at times had to run counter to the authoritarian regime’s efforts to suppress the truth. Regular phone calls from military officers were the order of the day. In one case where we offended a very powerful minister, we ended up with a lawsuit filed against us.
But that is the cost of holding power and the powerful accountable. And that role is needed now more than ever.
In politics, where populist leaders prefer direct communication channels with the public, and where they can use their platform to peddle outrageous claims (such as that traditional herbs or malaria drugs can cure COVID-19), the media must be the first to call a spade a spade.
During this pandemic, when a lack of transparency and delayed policy response could mean life or death for a large swath of the population, the media play a crucial role in demanding accountability.
When the coronavirus has forced traditional channels of political oversight to stay home, and political rallies are constrained by the extended social distancing rule, the media play a vital role in keeping democracy afloat.
For the first time in our history, the paper is being published remotely. All editors are working from home, with only necessary reporters on the ground.
Reporting this unprecedented event in the history of humanity and recording the public anxiety it causes is our gift and responsibility.
And judging from the spike in the number of readers on our website in the past two months, apparently we have done a good job. We stepped up our efforts to inform the audience about how the government has been faring in the fight against the once-in-a-century pandemic.
And given vast misinformation and hoaxes on COVID-19, we also consider it our civic duty to provide only accurate and science-based information. And it is for that reason we have provided free access to readers to news items and opinion regarding COVID-19.
It has not always been easy for us. With advertising money being siphoned off by social media companies and internet search giants while boosting online subscription continues to be an elusive goal, running a smooth operation is a daily struggle, and we are eternally grateful for readers who are sticking with us. So next time you read something on our website, don’t forget to click the subscribe button.
That may help us survive for another 37 years.