Saturday, February 10, 2007

Joyful flood or bad journalism?

So people are mad at Minister Aburizal because of his remarks on the flood disaster. It was shown in a TV news, the minister was saying that all the bad news about flood in Jakarta within the last week was an exaggeration. The fact is, according to the minister, what we see on TV is happy flood victims who, while talking to the reporters, are smiling and laughing with joy.

I would have said the same thing. Aburizal was quite right. I mean, come on, turn on your TV now, pick any domestic channel and watch the news. Now, do you see that reporter swimming wet with a yellow rain coat struggling to keep his microphone dry? Yes. Wait until he gets to interview some random flood victim. There he is. He usually goes standard, ‘Pak, what do you think about the flood?’ And the interviewee goes ‘Well, my house is two meter sunk now (smiling). The government should help us (laughing)’. In the background, his fellow victims are waiving hands to the camera, and kids are free jumping to the brown water with joy.

So who says Minister Aburizal was wrong? I agree with him: people do look happy.

But I’m not Aburizal. The way I see this is beyond laughing. What I see is a terribly bad journalism. I don’t think the bad news about flood disaster is exaggerated. But I think those TV journalists fail to bring us the true picture of reality.

The thing is, they are lazy. Instead of documenting the very life of the victims: how they can’t sleep because of water and starving, how they cope with extremely poor sanitation, how they try to keep their babies alive, and so forth; they, the reporters, choose the easiest way: random interview with useless questions. (Well maybe not too lazy, because they seem pretty heroic: they jump into the water – but what is the point? Let’s see: Now that there is this new fatal disease, the evil amalgam of dirty flood water and mouse urine, are they still going to give life report swimming?).

I guess the journalists could use some economics principle: trust what one does, not what he says. Please, do not give us crappy interviews, because they are nothing but sweet talks. Show us the reality. Show us how the people live their life. More cameras and fewer microphones will do the message (and avoid Aburizal’s misunderstanding).


tirta said...

i wasn't able to get access to indonesian tvs, but my hunch is that there would be more sad faces among the more (financially) able jakartans: they're not use to this kind of long-lasting chaotic mess. so ical is right as far as the poor is concerned -- for all kinds of daily trouble is already their cup of tea. that is, why bother frowning more when access, transport, food and electricity have always been difficult problems, and now the kids can swim free with their friends?

Aco said...

yes, you're right, tirta: ical was just telling what he saw on tv. i saw the same thing.

what is not really seen is people fighting against diarrhea -- them kids might got it from the happy swimming, too.

thamrin said...

Co, may be they are smile because of his/her silly questions? Even without asking a question, everyone knows how they feel (about the flood).
Come on, as you said, its easy to be a journalist now, just willing and eager to jum into brown river water....he....he....he... And their senior editor have not enough times to brief them cause they also have to escape from the flood.....he...he...