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Good, sustainable news

Jakarta Post Editorial - February 22, 2024

Jakarta – Digital communication technology could have been a boon for the media industry.

The breaking down of physical barriers and the flattening of delivery costs by using the internet have allowed media companies to reach millions of readers, viewers and subscribers.

Advertisers could have easily capitalized on millions being able to access information in an instant. But that's not what happened.

As media outlets focused on what they do best, producing reliable and credible news for public consumption, technology platforms began to take over the role of delivering the news.

Search engines started filling the role of an indexing machine, helping internet users to navigate the more-than-ever diversified content available on the World Wide Web. Before long, search engine companies began crawling the internet to scrape content produced by media companies and deliver personalized content to users by using state-of-the-art algorithms.

As users relied more and more on search engines, so did advertisers. Why pay for ad space at media outlets if they could target individuals using targeting tools deployed by search engines?

Then, social media platforms came along and offered the greater promise of wider market reach. Not only did these platforms offer to distribute news in an even more targeted way, they also challenged the authority of media companies as the sole bearer of news.

At the same time as ad revenue was being diverted to social media companies, the role of media companies was being chipped away by content creators, social media personalities and influencers.

Today, the rise of artificial intelligence could further put the media industry at greater risk, as journalism itself could be taken over by the machine.

After 20 years, it seems that digital technology has been the bane of the media industry's existence.

It is against this backdrop that the government passed on Tuesday a regulation that many expected to help stem losses, control the damage and provide relief for the media industry, which had been left to its own devices to deal with the massive disruption that had evolved over the past two decades.

The long-awaited presidential regulation, which will take effect in August, requires tech giants like Google's Alphabet Inc. and Facebook's Meta to pay local media outlets for the news they republish on their platforms.

The new rule brings Indonesia in line with Australia and Canada, which have enacted similar policies on news publishers' rights.

Indonesia's presidential regulation paves the way for media companies to negotiate partnerships with tech platforms in the form of paid licensing, revenue sharing and data sharing.

It is a small victory for the country's media companies, which can finally start negotiating with global tech giants for the first time and on a stronger, more equal footing.

The new rule also comes at the right time, as news organizations from television broadcasters to web-based publications and radio stations are currently dealing with a wave of mass layoffs and other belt-tightening measures as a result of dwindling ad revenues.

The regulation certainly was a concession from President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo, who had been pilloried by Indonesian media in the lead-up to the Feb. 14 presidential election, especially over his alleged judicial meddling that allowed his son Gibran Rakabuming Raka to run for vice president alongside front-runner Prabowo Subianto.

In his speech on Tuesday as the highlight of celebrations to mark this year's National Press Day, which falls annually on Feb. 9, Jokowi said in Jakarta that he had passed the presidential regulation despite some harsh criticisms from media companies.

"I respect freedom of the press, freedom of speech and freedom of expression," he said.

We can only expect the incoming administration of his successor, very likely Prabowo, will protect not only the rights of the country's media organizations through the new regulation but also their freedom.

Source: https://www.thejakartapost.com/opinion/2024/02/22/good-sustainable-news.htm