An excellent example of balanced reporting – from Indonesia

by Eyes Wide Open

The Jakarta Post’s op-ed piece entitled “Battling for shared cultures” is an excellent example of responsible and balanced journalism. It presents both sides of the story factually, and the language is carefully calm and reasoned.

Even though the winds from the Republic are fiercely buffeting our nation, the Indonesian press is still able to keep a level head amidst the storm. It is refreshing indeed to read a media report that is not blatantly partisan (or worse) like what we are so used to here in Malaysia.

Some examples of the balanced, both-sides-of-the-story approach:


Malaysia can diplomatically claim the song “Rasa Sayange” belongs to all, due to the anonymity of the composer and the song having long been a folk song for the Malay archipelago; but any outside claim to the Pendet dance is profoundly problematic because of the strong connection of the dance to Balinese culture.


Malaysia can be said to have ignored the importance of Indonesia. This is the actual paradox in Malaysia-Indonesia relations. Meanwhile, Indonesians have overreacted to Malaysia. They have not just demanded the end of diplomatic relations with Malaysia, but have also reproduces the old concept of konfrontasi…”


The rest of the article then analyses the root cause of this “cultural confrontation” by Indonesian youths who are actually largely apathetic to their own traditional culture.

In this case, the writer presents his opinion that the real motivation behind the massive “ganyang Malaysia” movement is due to the Indonesians’ panic at “losing” their traditional culture, which they failed to fully appreciate in the first place.

Like I said, this is an excellent piece – balanced and fair to both countries and tries to identify the real issues – the “tersirat di belakang yang tersurat” if you will – instead of taking sides.

Will we ever see this kind of journalism in Malaysian MSM?

Just look at the coverage of the cow-head protest. All the Malaysian media – print and online – approached it from either a “support it” or “oppose it” angle, giving various reasons, facts (or “facts”) and arguments to back up their positions.

Did any of the media step outside of the argument and present a “tersirat di belakang yang tersurat” op-ed piece on the controversy? Maybe there were some such articles, but I don’t remember reading any.

Or perhaps there were journalists who did write balanced some pieces, but were spiked in favour of more politically partisan ones?

Whichever the case, the end result was a long and partisan media campaign.

Don’t get me wrong. There’s nothing wrong with the media taking sides – it’s their right to opinion and freedom of expression.

But the glaring absence of more neutral and balanced pieces shows that our media (and perhaps, it reflects on our media’s readers as well) is either unwilling or unable to have peace-making voices of reason.

If that’s the case, our country will continue to be embroiled in partisan arguments till the cows come home.

3 Responses to “An excellent example of balanced reporting – from Indonesia”
  1. bujangperantau says:

    Oh pleaseeeeee!

    Don’t blame the journalists. In case if don’t know they really want to do balanced pieces. But hey, they reach the sub desk, cut here cut there, the pieces become imbalance.
    First thing to do is for the media owner not to involve themselves in politic. However, that’s impossible because without politic the media owner cannot cari makan. In this country, if you don’t joint political party, you cannot cari makan.

    • hartalmsm says:


      What you say is so true. We don’t blame the journalists, we know they have to cari makan. We blame the policy-shapers. However, journalists are on the front line – sent there by the “propaganda generals” so they will come under fire. If you have any REAL news that the papers refuse to publish, send it in to us. We’ll be happy to consider publishing it – subject to verification of course.

      Our aim here is to force the MSM to choose – their readers or their political bosses? If they want their bosses, we’ll continue to campaign against them to reduce their readerships further.

  2. Dr Su says:

    We do see balanced reporting in Malaysia but not in the MSM!

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