The official launch of local pages namely Suara Regional was carried out in conjunction with a webinar themed "Election Campaign Strategies in the Middle of Pandemic".
PT Arkadia Digital Media Tbk through its subsidiary, the primary news website Suara.com, officially launched local content development in 14 provinces in Indonesia. The launch of the program for local content under the name of Suara Regional was carried out in conjunction with a webinar themed "Election Campaign Strategies in the Middle of Pandemic", on Friday, August 28, 2020.
A number of respected figures and speakers were present at the launch which was simultaneously held with the webinar. Among them are the Commissioners of both the General Election Commission (KPU) and the Election Supervisory Agency (Bawaslu), representative for the Minister of Home Affairs, the Governor of Central Java, the Governor of East Java, members of the House of Representatives, a number of researchers and political observers, as well as several candidates in the upcoming election for regional head in some regions in Indonesia.
This interesting event was broadcasted live starting at 14.00 WIB through the Zoom video application, as well as on various platforms managed by Suara.com, including its own website page, Suaradotcom Facebook page, Suaradotcom Instagram account, and the Suaradotcom channel on Youtube.
The 14 provinces currently being developed for Suara Regional's content include SuaraSumut.id for North Sumatra, SuaraRiau.id for Riau, SuaraSumsel.id for South Sumatra, SuaraBatam.id for Riau Islands, SuaraJakarta.id for Jakarta greater area, SuaraBanten.id for Banten, SuaraJabar.id for West Java, SuaraJawaTengah.id for Central Java, SuaraJogja.id for DI Yogyakarta, SuaraJatim.id for East Java, SuaraPontianak.id for West Kalimantan, SuaraKaltim.id for East Kalimantan, SuaraSulsel.id for South Sulawesi, and SuaraBali.id for Bali Province.
The CEO of PT Arkadia Digital Media Tbk, Wiliam Martapura said that the launch of these special portals for Suara.com in 14 provinces is part of the Company's development to strengthen local content. It is hoped that in addition to strengthening content, the Company can also collaborate with various local media to grow together and develop digital media ecosystems in various regions.
"In fact, it is not only local content that we hope can grow healthily, with quality and benefit content offering the public in their respective regions, but also local media businesses are expected to develop and grow together, including in terms of educating the public, local governments, and local businesses," Wiliam said.
Meanwhile, the COO of PT Arkadia Digital Media Tbk who is also the Editor in Chief of Suara.com, Suwarjono, said that there are at least two major challenges to the media amid the Covid-19 pandemic. First, the public needs accurate information to become references in the midst of the infodemic --the flood of information regarding the pandemic. Meanwhile, access to accurate and factual information is very limited due to the pandemic which has cut off many accesses due to safety and health protocols. Secondly, although online media including local media has experienced an increase in traffic, it is not in line with an increase in revenue. Even worse, media revenue from advertisements has mostly decreased, with some of their clients even cutting their cooperation.
"At this difficult time, many new breakthroughs are needed to maintain the existence of media that provide verified information, not hoax or disinformation. It takes a lot of fact-checking journalists in the midst of the current infodemic," Suwarjono said.
Suwarjono added that local media development is also part of responses to the rapidly increasing needs of local content. If 5-6 years ago digital media readers were mostly concentrated in the Jakarta, Bogor, Tangerang and Bekasi areas, now the percentage of Jabotabek readers has decreased, while accesses for online media in various regions have increased rapidly. The rapid increase occurred in a number of big cities such as Surabaya, Bandung, Medan, Makassar, Semarang, Yogyakarta, Palembang and others. The increase was even higher when the Covid-19 pandemic occurred.
"It seems that people in the midst of a pandemic are looking for information related to Covid around where they live. Whether it's a map of the spread of Covid-19 in the area they live in, any health information around them, or regarding their daily needs. They look for a variety of information that is happening around them. This is also what causes a number of local digital media to have an increase in traffic by up to 200 percent," Suwarjono said.
Suwarjono added, aside from forming a dedicated team to collaborate with stakeholders, Suara.com will also collaborate with the community and educate the public and communities to become citizen journalists. "Public literacy is important to build informative and accountable content, so that our digital content will be healthier," he said.
For the needs of development in these 14 provinces, Suara.com has taken a number of steps, starting from recruiting reporters, contributors, and editors in a number of regions, as well as mapping and designing local content management. The company is also preparing offices to start operations in some of the provincial capitals.
Suara.com's efforts to develop local content also received support from Media Development Investment Fund (MDIF), an international organization that recently supported the development of PT Arkadia Digital Media Tbk. The CEO of MDIF, Harlan Mandel, said: "Suara.com’s initiative to develop local content isn’t just a significant step for the company, it is also important for the people in 14 provinces who will now be able to access more reliable news and information than ever before. It is also a boost for the local media organisations that Suara.com will be partnering with. We are very excited about this strategy that both strengthens the provision of local information and nurtures local digital media ecosystems."
Through collaboration with various parties, Suara.com hopes that local content as well as local media businesses can develop and grow together. In the end, this program is not just a development step for Suara.com and PT Arkadia Digital Media Tbk, but also as an effort to help advance and strengthen the media industry, including at the local level, which is expected to add more benefits to the public at large.