Jokowi said he made a point of attending the celebration despite being scheduled to leave for Canberra the same day.
"Why did I have to come? Because journalists are my friends, who I meet every day," Jokowi told an audience of journalists at the event, as quoted in a State Palace press release on Saturday.
Jokowi added that reporters accompanied him on most of his presidential trips, more than even some of his ministers.
"Wherever I go, reporters are the ones who always follow me. The ministers sometimes do not come along, but reporters are always there. They're the ones who chase me every day, who stop me for comments. Sometimes they make me nervous and I stutter because they ask questions I'm not ready to answer," Jokowi said.
"When I see journalists, I don't hate them, I miss them. They are always in my heart, and I always miss them," he said.
Jokowi reiterated his statement in a post on his official Twitter account. "Happy National Press Day 2020," he said in his tweet.
During last year's celebrations, Jokowi received a Press Freedom Award from the National Press Council for his administration's "commitment to protecting the freedom of the press".
However, the award was questioned by the Alliance of Independent Journalists (AJI), which cited the many attacks and restrictions on journalists covering certain topics and issues during his administration.
The organization recorded at least 223 cases of violence against journalists between 2015 and 2018, with the largest number of cases, 81, recorded in 2016.