This year, countries in the world, including Indonesia, are facing the challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. As of now, there have been over 500,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Indonesia and more than 16,000 have died due to the virus. I hope that the members of the Belt and Road Journalist Network work together and support one another and expand coverage on the scientific prevention and control of the pandemic, so as to avoid the negative impact of misinformation on people worldwide.
Media from different countries do need to publish more positive reports to inspire the people, spread optimism, and convince the people that we are capable of wiping out the pandemic.
I personally think that the coronavirus will not be eliminated in the short term. Consequently, reporting the pandemic will continue to be the priority of the Network in the next year. Our reporters will continue to work on pandemic reporting.
In Indonesia, 3,517 journalists were assigned by the government and the press committee to report prevention measures against the coronavirus. Their major task is to call on the general public to change their living habits and to strictly abide by all the prevention and control measures, such as wearing masks, washing hands frequently, and maintaining social distance.
The theme of the Forum, “Strengthening solidarity and cooperation to build a shared future – journalism exchange in the post-COVID-19 era”, coincides perfectly with the ideas that we should uphold at present. It is necessary to enhance communication and cooperation, deepening mutual understanding among journalist organizations, and improve the professional competence of each and every journalist.
Besides, we should also pay attention to the conditions of every journalist, protecting them from being overwhelmed by the pandemic, financially in particular. As we know, the incomes of journalists are linked to the performance of the media they work for.
For this reason, I suggest that the Network plan a series of activities that can actually bring positive energy to journalists.
With all that being said, I hope that we can strengthen our solidarity and seek for a better development of the Belt and Road Journalist Network.
(Speech by Atal Sembiring Depari, General Chairperson of the Indonesian Journalists Association, from the 2020 Belt & Road Journalists Forum themed Journalism Exchange and Cooperation in the Post Covid-19 Era)