Dio Suhenda, Tangerang, Banten – The first Data and Computational Journalism Conference Indonesia (DCJ-CI) kicked off in Tangerang, Banten, on Wednesday, with experts and practitioners highlighting the need for a more data-driven approach to journalism.
The DCJ-CI, the country's first nationwide conference of its kind, is being hosted by the National Multimedia University (UMN) in partnership with the United States Mission to Indonesia and features 16 seminars and six workshops over four days. They cover topics such as new media technology and data-driven journalism and are being held both offline and online.
Some 1,200 participants, including journalists, representatives of civil society organizations, academics and government officials, have signed up for the conference, according to the event's project officer, Utami Diah Kusumawati.
"We are aware that there are a lot of courses available [on data journalism...] but there is no single platform [in Indonesia] yet that can bring these practitioners together," Utami told reporters after the opening of the conference.
"We hope that this conference can be a place for learning and exchanging knowledge for data and computational journalism between practitioners and educators from Indonesia and abroad," she added.
Prior to this year's conference, the DCJ-CI had hosted workshops across the country, including in Jakarta; Surabaya, East Java; Palembang, South Sumatra; and Makassar, South Sulawesi.
At the opening event, the Alliance of Independent Journalists (AJI) welcomed the initiative, saying efforts to help journalists develop skills aligned with the goals set out by the association.
"This [conference] is a great help for us as practitioners [...], and we hope that this can be a point of collaboration for us," said journalist Adi Marsiela of the AJI.
Adi noted that the AJI had been pushing for similar efforts to help introduce data-driven journalism to practitioners over the past few years in response to the increasing amount of data released by the government.
"We wanted to respond to the government's effort to release its own data hub. And starting from there, we began holding data journalism classes in 2017, and we hope that more journalists and researchers can contribute."
Adi noted that data journalism could assist with fact-checking and track misinformation, particularly in the lead-up to 2024, when the country is expected to hold general and regional elections.
Wahyu Dhyatmika, secretary general of the Indonesian Cyber Media Association (AMSI), said data journalism had been heralded as a breakthrough for traditional news outlets seeking to disseminate information to the public.
"The digital disruption has changed the business model for media [companies] and has changed the way the public consumes information. Data journalism has become one of the ways for journalism to once again be relevant to the public," Wahyu said.
In Indonesia, where digital literacy still lags behind the vast number of people connected online via social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, Youtube and Tik-Tok, journalists are faced with the challenge of fact-checking and verification on a massive scale amid a proliferation user-generated content and widespread misinformation.