While Working From Home, Journalists Need Online Press Conferences

 

During the social restrictions imposed by the government as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic, media workers have come to prefer online press conferences along with press releases as their primary means of covering the news. This preference was revealed during a study titled “What the Media Needs during WFH” released by Imogen Communication Institute (ICI) in April 2020. The research involved 115 journalists in 10 cities that included Jakarta, Surabaya, Bandung, Semarang, Palembang, Medan, Pekanbaru, Makassar, Banjarmasin, and Samarinda.

 

 

This finding is in-line with the Government of Indonesia’s (GoI) Large Scale Social Restrictions (PSBB) policy intended to flatten the COVID-19 infection curve. 61.4 percent of the journalists stated that they prefer online press conferences as that way they could still ask questions directly to the spokespersons either through live chat or the comment section. Meanwhile, 28.7 percent prefer receiving written press releases, and 9.9 percent prefer to watch pre-recorded statement videos.

“Journalists need information directly from the spokespersons, especially if they are experts or authority figures that are credible and relevant to the current situation. This is especially important if these persons are difficult to contact directly. Online press conferences can be suitable mediums for journalists to ask questions directly during the Q&A session,” explained Imogen Communication Insitute Director Widi Wahyu Widodo in Jakarta (15/4).

 

 

Widi also explained that most journalists prefer to use Zoom or YouTube streaming due to their familiarity with the platforms, although Instagram Live and Google Meet are also used. “The journalists prefer Zoom or YouTube streaming because of their live chat features. They also like that they can re-watch recordings of press conferences they already attend,” he continued.

However, problems such as poor connectivity and expensive data plans mean that 28.7 percent of the journalists prefer to receive written press releases instead. “With multiple online conferences a day, journalists are quickly running out of data on their devices and must then top up their plans – which are significant spending for them,” Widi explained.

 

 

Ideally, he explains, press releases should be prepared and shared with the journalists as soon as they join an online conference. This allows journalists to explore their angles and prepare their questions well in advance of the Q&A session, thus making more efficient use of their times. These releases also help journalists facing poor connectivity, missed materials, and garbled explanations.

Meanwhile, the Chairperson of the Indonesian Public Relations Companies Association (APPRI) Jojo S. Nugroho regrets that several GoI agencies are still conducting face-to-face conferences. This exposes journalists to higher risks during the pandemic. “This is contrary to the government’s policies of social restriction and quarantine,” said Jojo.

The APPRI calls on all GoI agencies to cease holding face-to-face or conventional press conferences and instead move their conferences and media activities to online spaces. “If you need to call for a conference, do it online since journalists’ movements are also restricted during the PSBB. However, clear guidelines and SOPs are required for these online conferences to ensure the clear delivery of messages to the media,” he explained.

 

For further information please contact

Widi Wahyu Widodo

+62 813 160 80309

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