Indonesian Journalists Respond to Country’s Environmental Information Needs

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Earth Journalism Network, Jakarta, Indonesia

The Society of Indonesian Environmental Journalists now boasts 370 members. 

Fifty of Indonesia’s leading environmental journalists gathered in Jakarta in late August to discuss the state of environmental reporting, elect leaders of their professional association and advance plans to launch a ground-breaking new GeoJournalism portal called Ekuatorial.

SIEJ has now built its network to a membership of 370 with numerous regional chapters and leaders. The stories generated by its training and fellowship activities have helped prevent destructive development of Aceh’s Rawa Tripa peat swamp, prompted a government clean-up of Gorantalo’s polluted Lake Poso, and reduced poaching of the anoa, a threatened species. Executive Director IGG Maha Adi was unanimously re-elected at the gathering.

The Society of Indonesian Environmental Journalists (SIEJ) was launched in 2006 with the support of Internews’ Earth Journalism Network, and continues to receive both technical and financial support from EJN, thanks to funding from the David and Lucile Packard Foundation. In addition to Ekuatorial, other upcoming activities include a “Ridge to Reef” training program for Indonesian journalist.

Now in the early stages of development, Ekuatorial will serve as a map-based digital journalism platform that builds off of the progress made with a sister project in Latin America, InfoAmazonia.  It will illustrate and provide narrative context to issues such as marine resource protection, deforestation, natural disaster, and land use. So far, 15 Indonesian media houses have agreed to be sources of syndicated stories and to utilize Ekuatorial’s maps in their reporting.

EJN’ Senior Program Coordinator Willie Shubert provided a series of data journalism trainings to help SIEJ’s national network of journalists contribute to the platform. An in-depth session held at the Freedom Institute, in partnership with the Humanitarian Open Street Map team focused on the journalists’ use of mapping and data collection methods including CrowdMapPushpin OSM, GPS, and Field Papers

The long-term goals of Ekuatorial include the integration of SMS-based reporting and remote sensing into the platform. By combining the mapping tools of InfoAmazonia with the information brokers system pioneered by SIEJ founder and Knight International Journalism Fellow Harry Surjadi, and OpenIR’s system of crowd-verified satellite interpretation, Ekuatorial is in a position to communicate Indonesia’s rapid environmental and developmental changes.