QUALITY JOURNALISM HAS not ended. It still survives despite the collapse of print media. Churnalists – pseudojournalists who sit and type like crazy in their comfortable cubicles days and nights until their backs ache and eyes redden- certainly always win the war of pageviews but it is journalists who work hard out there in field, in reality, to gather materials, write reports from scratch, and bear the risks of getting injured or harmed in the process.
When hoax and biased news run rampant like nowadays both in Indonesia and the world, pessimissm reigns, questioning whether our press organizations will eventually perish or survive the hardship.
I myself srongly believe that quality journalism will be still around after I met with Amarzan Loebis, an Indonesia senior journalist who opened up from A to Z about Investigative Journalism (from now on abbreviated as IJ).
Linguistically, the phrase IJ was derived from a Latin phrase ‘diurna vestigium’, meaning that it’s a sort of journalism which tracks down trails. IJ is notorius for its chaos-making nature. It’s meant to wake people up and open their eyes after reading.
IJ is obviously not intended for every newcomer. One must be patiently working his or her way up to the ladder. Bit by bit. “Experience is everything,” he emphasized. It therefore doesn’t matter much that one is from an outstanding academic background or certified as a journalist in an official journalism institution. What matters most is whether one has been doing the work for quite a long time well or not. Because according to Amran, in journalism seniority is determined by means of depth and maturity. “It’s not about one’s tenure in a certain position or post,” added Loebis. It’s definitely a hands-on kind of profession.
Some think Investigative Reporting and In-depth Reporting are two same things. But in fact, if we care to observe more, the two are dissimilar. Loebis pointed out this confusing misconception does exist. “In-depth Reporting springs out of curiosity,” he explained. A journalist writes an in-depth report in order to describe something, an important issue for public to learn and criticize.
Meanwhile, Investigative Reporting starts from suspicion. A journalist works with an investigative reporting method to expose something hidden, an issue that is not obvious or unknown by public but very crucial to the betterment of the society and state. Its objective is greater than financial gains and fame.
In the US, IJ has emerged since 1902 amidst social changes. It proved able to help shape the social structure. Businesswise, it also helped the media tycoons make a lot of profits.
In 1920s, investigative journalism associations mushroomed in the US.The trend was even achieving a new height after a number investigative reports were rewritten and published as literary works/ novels. Repackaging investigative journalism works was a tactic to make it timeless and more consumable to wider audiences, crossing geographical boundaries.
Though it is possible to launch an investigative endeavor on one’s own, naturally IJ is conducted in teams. This holds true especially when journalists are after an issue at a grand scale or involving prominent figures and their cronies. An IJ team consists of not only seasoned journalists but also newcomers as their faces are much less recognizable to the public (because senior journalists are presumably have appeared so often in public, making foes recognize them more easily).
IJ may always be oriented to the West (read: the US and UK) but IJ in the East (Asia) has actually made its appearance. The thing is its development was not well documented, making it less probable to track down.
Loebis showed his optimism that even under the amounting threat of online news outlets, IJ never fades away and has its own place. It is somehow irreplacable.
He sees opportunities for IJ in the epoch of internet. “IJ can be a golden opportunity for old-school media organizations to outlive the public forecast [that they would die sooner or later],” he underscored.
I understand that IJ is so hard to execute that only very few journalists willingly and indefatigably dedicate themselves to the pursuit of truth the hard way like this.
He likened IJ to ‘jihad’ or struggle. “IJ is a fighting journalism, which is born out of the spirit of resisting,” he defined. That said, those who work in this field have to be prepared for any possible risks.
“But thanks to the heavy and serious nature of IJ, most modern press accolades are intended for IJ works,” Loebis spoke.
It is no exaggeration, I suppose, when the jovial journalist concluded his talk by stating: “The future of Indonesia’s print media is IJ.” (*/)