Document Type

Journal Article


Long before the descriptor "citizen journalist" became a topic of research interest in academia, Indonesia's Radio Elshinta ( in Jakarta had already opened its airwaves for listeners, most with no formal journalism training, to call in their stories. This paper contextualises Elshinta's experience with Asia's top online citizen media portal Ohmynews ( in South Korea to identify their common and divergent characteristics. The case study is complemented by interviews with journalists from Elshinta and Ohmynews. The study concludes that despite relatively unreliable access to Internet facilities in Indonesia, the main catalysts for Elshinta's engagement with it's listeners are (a) the predominantly oral culture in Indonesia; (b) low literacy, thus their reliance on radio as the primary source of information and entertainment; and (c) the popularity of mobile phones for formal and informal communication. Indonesian television and newspapers, however, have been slow in catching up with people-initiated journalism because of (a) fear of losing it's reputation and credibility, and thus its commercial base; and (b) conflict between unedited reports by untrained reporters with the professional practice standards and the Press Law. Other obstacles to people-initiated journalism in television and newspapers are the slow uptake of amateur handycam images by TV stations, poor internet access, lack of writing skills and lack of interactivity in existing online news sites.