|Media; Social Watch; Communities
|Saving the environment has been the common media discourse of
this decade. Scholars, movie stars and world leaders are calling out to
stop environmental destruction through popular media. Al Gore made
more famous for his documentary ‘An Inconvenient Truth’ on global
warming and its effects. The United Nations Environment Programme
(UNEP) appointed actresses, models and athletes to attract attention
to their environmental campaigns. Sundance film festivals have
become an important platform for environmental movies. The media
coverage on environmental changes is also expanding. Traditional
media and new media such as social media alike are campaigning for
|Environmental communication has also become important
discourse in the public and private sphere. Environmental
communication has influenced the government’s policy-making.
For instance, environmental activist joined with the public in the
UK has triggered opposition voices on the privatization proposals
to the management of the forest . The online campaign set up a
petition that achieved 533,053 signatures. In addition, recognizing the
importance of communicating environmental problems, Universities
around the globe are launching environmental communication as a
formal education degree.
|Despite the popular notion of saving the environment, deforestation
continues at alarming rate of 0.11% per year, between the year 2000 to
2011 . The government and private sector claim that in their forest
mining activities, they are focusing on forest health, productivity
and socio-economic functions of forest, as well as forest certification
[3,4]. In reality, the current management of forest is being criticized
by Maser who argues that forest functions is being altered without
ideas of how these actions will affect the sustainability of the forest
. Anthropogenic factors such as forest based industries, population
growth and agriculture continue to threaten the forest . In addition,
natural disaster and climate change also influence changes in forest
ecosystem and composition.
|To overcome this situation, the media has the potential to play a
significant educating role. Formal education can only reached out to certain population and neglect the larger sphere where perpetrators
of forest degradation reside. The media as a communication actor can
provide informal education as well as monitor on-the-ground actions
of forest communities. This paper proposes such role of the media as
social watch in forest management. Functioning more as a monitoring
and documenting actor, the media can take the responsibility of
empowering and capacity building of the community. This informal
learning by the media can create domino effects which started from
individual level to the government.
|This paper proposes the role of media as social watch by looking
into the case of Indonesia. The purpose of this paper is twofold. First is
to articulate the Indonesian media coverage on forest issues. Second is
to provide a framework in which the media can play a role to improve
the situation on forest management. To achieve its purposes, this paper
reviews media literature. Then, this paper discusses brief history and
progress of media industry in Indonesia. Indonesia is selected because
the existing media industry reflects hegemonic power of media as
discussed by Bainbridge . There are a few media networks owned
by political elites that dominate communication channels in the
country. These communication channels are being consumed by 240
million population whose 21 percent watch television regularly .
Subsequently, media coverage on forest issues in Indonesia is analyzed
by discourse analysis to see the classification of coverage; whether the
article highlights problems or proposes solutions to certain issue. Next,
the paper designed a framework of actions with action plans where the
media can be used to improve efforts for sustainable forest management.
Sustainable forest management is defined as sound efforts that provide balance to the forest ecosystem’s productivity, resilience, biodiversity
and integrity . Last, conclusion is discussed.
|The Role and Influence Factor of Media
|The media, be it traditional media such as newspaper, mass media
such as television, social media such as internet social network and
informal such as university bulletin board as a common influence
factors. These are; 1) creating a perception of reality; 2) influencing
the activities of audiences, advertisers as well as their own internal
organizational process and demand for engagement Cinzia, and
Kranenburg; and 3) setting the political agenda McCombs [10-14].
With almost one third of the world’s population is using the Internet
today, the number of social media user is increasing gradually .
And today, the more educated audience has more power to choose the
media, which fit for his or her needs. The mass media might be able to
influence larger audiences, but if it needs to tailor its communication
form in order to persuade a specific group.
|Media is defined as “all those institutions of society that make use of
copying technologies to disseminate communication” . Bainbridge
stated that media is anything in which something else can be transmitted
. Mcluhan coined the term ‘the medium is the message’ meaning
that the form of a message (print, audio visual) determines the way in
which that message will be perceived . McLuhan theory suggests
that audio-visual device such as television can create a perception of
reality for its viewers. This view is further endorsed by Gerbner who
hypothesized communication of culture (through media) is not merely
to entertain, but also to create publics; they do not only reflect but also
shape attitude, tastes and preferences .
|This is to say that the media is used as a tool that influences
activities of society and demand for an engagement. As proposed by
Keefer and Khemani, media access can be the source of information
and persuasion for individuals directly through their own exposure
and indirectly through other institutions . Continuous exposure
of media creates behavior change and brought impact in various
dimensions of the society. Scholars have researched the impact of
media on politics, disaster management and post disaster recovery and
public service [12,17-21]. This power aspect of the media brought what
Bainbridge describe as ‘hegemonic power’ where the elite dominant
group uses the media to persuade subordinate groups to accept the
leadership and ideas . The dynamics of media also relates to different
dimensions of social, economic and politics .
|The media itself can be differentiated by its ownership, scope of
target audience, coverage and mode of communication. Private owned
media refers to broadcasting industry that owns a national and local
network of television, radio, online and targeting large number of
audience. Community based media is the media where the audience is
main agent of its operation, for example local television and community
radio. Private owned media has a larger scope of audience and coverage
than community based media. Both private and community based
media exist in different forms; radio, television, new media or social
media and informal media.
|The early-developed media such as radio and television helped to
construct hegemony by producing the cultural identity for people; or
the way people should behave . Television is portrayed as the media
that offer both recreational and educational functions, a tool useful for
classifying and acclimatizing the audience to the outside world and
important way to conserve the tradition of media and ways of being
. Social media platform has risen for sharing various types of user personalized content to generate relationships and social capital .
Khang also argues “with the rise of varied platforms of social media,
the online environment has become fully interactive and collaborative,
allowing individuals to actively engage in two-way communication,
post reviews of services and products, upload self-created videos, and
even engage in virtual lives”. The news spread through the internet
has named as a game changer in what was a fairly tame, safe media
instrument . In addition, informal media for example bulletin board
is used in a smaller scope of audience. Nevertheless all the media above
have certain degree of influence to its audiences.
|Media and Forest Issue in Indonesia
|Forest issues and media coverage
|Indonesia has lost 8 percent of its total area to deforestation
between early 2000 and 2012, making it the highest level of tree cover
lost in Southeast Asia. In 2011, there are 130.68 million hectares of
forest in Indonesia, including marine conservation areas. The royalties
and other revenues from forest operations exceeded $1.1 billion per
annum and forest related employment amounted to about 800,000
jobs in the formal sector . The 1945 Constitution mandate was
that the forest and all its contents is to be utilized to the maximum
benefit of the people while maintaining sustainability. In response to
the climate change impact, the Government has also targeting a 26 per
cent emission reduction by 2020, with 14 per cent reduction coming
from the forestry sector. Indonesia is also one of the target countries for
REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation), a
climate change mitigation approach from various sectors.
|Although the country is active in leading the efforts to engage
multi-stakeholders to improve the research and investments into
sustainable landscapes, but it faces challenges in implementing
sustainable forest management (SFM) at below the national level.
This is partly due to decentralization that has been taking place since
early 2000 and complicates policy integration in forest management.
The decentralization policy in the forestry sector was aimed at
handing over roles and authority for forest resource management
from central to local government. However, its implementation in
Indonesia is mired with complexity and conflict due to differences in
understanding of the forest management model in the field . The
main regulations in forestry sector are Law No. 19/2004 that regulates
the licensing for private companies and Law No. 18/2013 that sanctions
the measurement against forest destructors. In addition, each province
and district has its own regulations that do not necessarily follow the
|Despite the fact that these existing law and regulations recognize
the role of community in forest management, however the local
ownership of forest is fairly weak because of government and private
sector domination. For example the community-based involvement of
Pembinaan Masyarakat Desa Hutan (PMDH) was mired with many
shortcomings and failure, resulting community based forestry area
only accounted to about 2% of total production areas, while private
companies manage 97.5% of total production forest. The involvement
of local community in forest management is vital given that the people
are dependent upon the forest for their livelihoods. Pulhin states that
people who live close to forests and may be dependent on them for
a variety of products and services have greater interest in the proper
management than distant authorities located hundreds of kilometers
away . Although forest management is being regularized at the
national and local level, it has not reached the grass root level. The
problems surrounding Indonesia forest management and high rate of deforestation demonstrate that forest in Indonesia has yet to be
managed in a sustainable way.
|With complexity framing forest management in Indonesia, the
media exacerbated the issue by focusing on the problems rather than
solutions to forestry issues. Discourse analysis was conducted on 150
articles (2008-2014, time varied within the three media) from three
online news; Kompas, Vivanews and Tabloid Jubi, owned by different
companies. Discourse analysis stemmed from a social constructionist
view that pinpoint language at the centre of social construction
process . Discourse analysis examines the use of language to create
meaning, images, stories or statements within particular social context.
The analysis classified newspaper articles on forest into 3 common
discourses: problems, travel and solution. The categorization of
‘problems’ is defined when the news is focusing on the issues related to
the forest, ranging from legal uncertainty, forest burning or corruption
case. Articles classified as ‘travel’ articles is classified in the humaninterest
section and focused on the tourism aspects of forest. Lastly,
articles classified as ‘solution’ define an answer to a problem.
|Result of the analysis shows different discourse on national and local
news. On the national news, the articles covering forestry are mainly
focusing on the problems related to forestry and less on the solutions
to the issues (Figure 1). These articles also have coverage on tourism
aspect of the forest. From 50 articles analysed on Kompas newspaper,
27 are focusing on the problems in forestry management, including
legal issue, forest destruction due to human made disaster, corruption
and how mismanagement of forest is causing poverty. Nineteen articles
portray the forest as travelling site and four articles propose solutions
to forestry problems. Solutions that these articles propose include the
use of indigenous knowledge in forest management and corporate
social responsibility programme in saving species of the forest.
|Similarly, Viva news focused on the problems of the forestry
issue. Discourse analysis on Vivanews articles show that 34 articles
are focusing on the problems, 11 articles are illustrating the forest as
tourism site and five articles emphasized on efforts to conserve the
forest through efficient use of technology, planting of useful forest
species, conservation actions initiated by blogger community and how
the government is using aid fund to protect the forest. These articles
published on both online sites are also being broadcasted on social
media. Some of these articles is forwarded by active social media users
and become ‘trending topic’, or popular issue that triggers online
|On the other hand, the local media Tabloid Jubi concerns more
on the solutions to the forest management rather than the problems.
Discourse analysis from 50 news articles shows that the articles are
discussing about ways to save the forest or protect the people through
forest conservation, legal framework revision or local government efforts
for forest concession moratorium. These articles are also lengthier and
use descriptive rather than aggressive words. For example, headline of
an article says ‘Merauke citizen is reminded over cutting down trees
near the coastal area’. In comparison, the headlines on national news
use words such as ‘threatened’ or ‘feudalism’. This is to say that the
sense of responsibility of local media is higher than national media to
certain issue and thus, proves the importance of involving these local
media in efforts for the environment.
|Role of Media as Social Watch in Forest Management
|This section provides assessment of the role and influence of
media in forest management. This paper proposes the media can
act as ‘social watch’ in forest management. The term social watch is
generally associated with monitoring of justice within the aspects of
gender and poverty. The word ‘social’ in Merriam dictionary is defined
as “the interaction of the individual and the group, or the welfare of
human beings as members of society” . Kuhn defines studies of
social as “the entire constellation of beliefs, values, techniques shared
by members of given community” . From those definitions, here
social watch is defined as the role of media in mentoring the society
that includes monitoring, guiding, as well as capacity building.
|Functioning of media as social watch using the study case in
Indonesia involves a number of interrelated internal and external
factors. The analysis in the previous section provides media context in
Indonesia where the press enjoys significant freedom, private owned
media has strong networks and community based media continues
to thrive. This condition paired with a number of forest management
problems, including decentralization, competing framework of
regulations and laws, lack of local ownership to the forest and corruption
prone system of conservation and reforestation signify the specific
engagement of media as social watch. First, it is vital to consider the
push and factor of the media that involve both private and community
based media. Second, the media can increase engagement in capacity
building of the community with support from government at national
and local levels. Last, the media can provide bridging between private
sector, government and the community.
|The push and pull factor of media
|As proven by the discourse analysis, there is a mismatch on
the focus of news coverage between national and local media. To
overcome this mismatch, this paper proposes a strategy of the ‘push
and pull factor’. The push and pull factor is defined as incentive to
set the national media agenda towards environmental sustainability.
Although commercial media still has hegemonic power in influencing
its audience, but the growth of Internet has changed the dynamics in a
sense that the media is also picking up what is trending in the society.
Indonesia is ranked 13th in terms of global internet population, with
more than 42 million internet users . Social media has become
important campaigning tools for national and local elections. As Rosen
suggested, the media hegemony (or monopoly) as gatekeeper of the
news is threatened by not just new technology and competitors, but
potentially by the audience it serves . Commercial media broadcast
the news based on trends on the internet. As such, community based
media, including local newspaper, television and social media can act
as the push factor that sparks sustainable forest management trends. In correspondence, private media can act as the pull factor that pressure
stakeholders of SFM to act.
|The previous discussion presented that community based media
is the media where community or individuals are the main operating
agent, such as community radio, social media or local television.
Although social media is associated with large social capital and
may have the traits of private owned media, but this paper takes the
view that it is a community driven media. The reason being is that
trending topics in social media originate from individual users and
personalization of social media depends much on the user. If popular
social media personality can be influenced to discuss the solutions to
forest management, then it will derive a bottom up trend. In Indonesia
where social media is popular, information can be spread quickly and
reach a large number of audience.
|With decentralization, it is imperative to influence decision making
of the local government through the local media. The programme of
local television and community radio can be tailored to fit the local
audience’s need and educate them in forestry issues. Examining the
role of community radio in post disaster management, Hibino and
Shaw demonstrated that its role is vital since existing mass media has
not been able to respond to the needs of communities at the local level
. Hence this type of media can be the main agent and important
tool for ensuring the sustainability in forest management.
|Correspondingly the private media can stimulate pressure to
the government on the issue of forest management. Here private
media refers to large media network encompasses national and local
television, pay per view television, radio stations, newspaper and online
news channels. The downward arrow expressed how the private media
can stimulate policy improvement especially since the media owner in
Indonesia is influential. The strong domino effect of media would incite
forest management discussion at the policy level. Given that the media
is not a neutral device, deliberately used to influence the government’s
decision making (Stromberg, 2005:189), it can be influential in exerting
social pressure to the government.
|The media in capacity building
|There is little understanding of cause and effects related
to environmental degradation, socio-economic impacts and
environmentally-induced migration . Although both Indonesian
national government has provided guidelines on forest management,
conduct seminars and workshop on regularly basis, but the
understanding of forest management at local level is limited. Study
from CIFOR on forestry sector decentralization in South Sulawesi
shows that the main challenge is local level understanding of forest
management . The current understanding of forest management
is not sufficient to provide tangible action both at the community and
policy level. This situation creates an opportunity to be filled by the
media to act as capacity building for the community. Goldstein may
suggest that the prestige press in particular has contributed to the
poor understanding of particular environmental issue . However,
community based media with its operation supervised by volunteered
or paid environmental professionals can ensure the data and facts on
environmental issues are accurate.
|In the present situation where the audience is getting too much
information, the ‘balance’ role of media is important. Balance means
that the media provide unbias information on certain issue. There is
some truth to the argument of Goldstein that says the present society
is no longer seem to care very much about making a discretion . However, the present society is better equipped with information and
thus, capable of retrieve information on certain issue from various
sources, for example through online or traditional media. What
matters more are how to keep the audience interested. To educate the
audience and to make the message absorbed, the media can utilize
innovative ways in its programming. For example information on
harvesting guidelines, dangers of illegal logging and indigenous forest
management can be packaged into an lively documentary or live
broadcast that would influence the behavior change of community
towards sustainability. The media can provide educational information
as well as collecting feedback from the community on the most suitable
ways of managing the forest.
|More than data and facts on environmental issue, receiving
feedback from the audience, information sharing and dissemination
of knowledge among community and individuals are equally
important. The reason being is that environmental discourse in the
media has been mainly focused on the event and damage rather than
the solutions. Allan argues that there is a tendency from the media to
represent environmental issue as specific event-oriented disaster rather
than recognizing it as event in need of bureaucratic calculation and
discussion . Critics against the media said that the environmental
discourse on the media tend to emphasis on the perpetrator and the
problems without focusing on the solutions . Discourse analysis
from national media articles has also proved this argument. If the
community and individuals provide feedback on what information is
needed, this lack of information can be avoided.
|Important note is also to provide more than brief news to the
audience, but creating programming that has significant impact and
initiate behavior change both from below and above. Grafstorm and
Windel argue that the media coverage is limited to discussing an issue
on the surface without offering reflective and in-depth discussion
about the broader context. This phenomenon could be explained
by the assumption that media is limited in their capacity to provide
neutral coverage due to the interest value of the news. For them,‘bad
news’ is ‘good news’. The challenge is to alter this perspective into
‘environmental awareness’ is ‘good news’.
|The media as bridge
|Focusing the discussion on forest management in the case of
Indonesia, the issue mainly lies on the decentralization that create
complexity in information sharing between national and local levels.
Differing views exist between the national and local government. The
national government transferred the authority of forest management
to the local government, who then extract the forest resources to
gain more local income. In the midst of this debate, media can play
bridging roles between individuals and government, private sectors
and international organisations to encourage communications within
all stakeholders, with the purpose of identifying problems and finding
common solutions. The realization of SFM requires intentional
measures from all direct and indirect stakeholders, although their
degree of involvement might differ. This is where the role of media is
vital in convincing those actors to maintain the sustainability of the
|The view taken is that the media could become an additional agent
of linking and monitoring sustainable development. Decentralization
that took place in Indonesia since early 2000 has fractioned the
national and local government, creating complexity in legal framework
for sustainable forest management. Identification of media is part
of reconnecting process. In practice, although the media has been successful in influencing daily lives of an audience, for example political
views of the public or alternative ways to work due to heavy traffic
on live broadcast, it has less success in contributing to the behavior
change of community towards the forest and environment. First, the
perspective of media on environmental issue needs to be changed, from
an agent of news to an educator. Once the media perceive itself as an
educator, then it can be effective in creating a bond among stakeholders
of forest management.
|Other roles of media
|The hegemonic power of media allows it to set the agenda of the
public. Along with agenda setting, the function of media in monitoring,
assessment and reporting, as well documenting is also vital given the
need for assessments in environmental issue taken from perspective other than the government’s. Here the media can provide alternative
ways to manage the forest, for example encouraging community
ownership of the forest will ensure better forest management. The
media can also maintain historical records of forest ownership and
management, which then maintain common identity among forest
stakeholders. These actions plans of the media are summarized in
Figure 2. Figure 2 proposes framework of action plans in which the
media can a role as social watch of forest management. These indicators
are derived from the role and influence factor of media. This paper
set 5 actions for media: agenda setting, capacity building, bridging,
monitoring assessment and reporting, as well as documenting. To
maximize the effort, private media and community based media need
to work closely together and have the common understanding of the
issue on focus.
|In the past decades, climate change and global warming issues have
received more coverage in mass media and the public sphere. The form
of coverage varied from news reporting or documentaries. However,
the coverage on news are mostly focused on the sensational factor of a
particular environmental issue. Even though media coverage has been
focused on environmental problems, one of them being deforestation,
that provide obstacle to future sustainable development of society, yet
not all people are educated to act against it. Despite the media is being
considered as the main actor in environmental communication, it has
yet to play constructive role in the society.
|This paper categorized the media into two types, that is private
media and community based media. Private media is the one that
owned by media network. Community based media including
community radio, local television and social media. Given the media
is commonly owned by corporation giant, it needs a strong incentive
to promote forest management that is sustainable. Commercial media
may have difficulties in terms of setting the goals, which is right for
the public (not for the owner). However involving community based
media such as community radio, local television and social media, can
overcome these difficulties. Community based media is able to create a
trend that can be resonated by the private media.
|Media that exists on the public space and sphere is a prominent
tool to influence decision-making. The media is where all stakeholders
can gather and exchange information. Agenda setting and hegemonic
power of the media can influence government’s decision-making and
policies to foster sustainable forest management. A joint effort between
mass media and community based media is vital to obtain roots in
both government and community, build bonds among all stakeholders
and maintain a common identity. Discourse analysis of forestry
articles in Indonesian media shows that the coverage on national
media is focusing on the problems of forest management, while the
local media is focusing on the solutions to forest management. This
demonstrates the sense of responsibility of national and local media
differs. Thus, engagement of local media in encouraging sustainable
forest management is vital.
|The effectiveness of the media as social watch is refined into
several factors and action plans, including the push and pull factors,
the media as capacity builder, the media as the bridge between existing
sustainable forest management stakeholders exist on the national
and local level, how the media set the agenda for sustainable forest
management, the media in monitoring, assessment and reporting
and lastly, how it document forest histories. The push and pull factors
relate to how private and community based media work together to
create strong incentive for coverage of sustainable forest management.
The media is an effective educator since the public consumes media
on a daily basis. Moreover, the media can transmit and act as site for
information sharing between national and local level stakeholders in
|The first author acknowledges the MEXT (MONBUKAGAKUSHO) scholarship
provided by the Japanese Government for performing this research at the
Environmental Education Lab, the Graduate School of Global Environmental
Studies of Kyoto University.
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