Konde.co Research: How Indonesian Media Views Non-Normative Sexuality and Genders (LGBT)

Konde.co launched research entitled "Their Story: How Indonesian Media Views Non-Normative Sexuality and Genders (LGBT') on Wednesday (19/1/2022).

Konde.co research, supported by USAID and Internews, started from the discomfort of the research team consisting of Widia Primastika, Marina Nasution, Lestari Nurhajati, Dina Listiorini, Luviana, and Reka Kajaksana who often saw news related to the LGBT community with news content that contained stigma, subordination, and discrimination.

The research started in August 2021 and aims to find out the media framing of gender diverse and sexually non-normative communities (LGBT), to know editorial policies and editorial management in reporting on gender diverse and sexually non-normative communities, and knowing whether or not there is an impact felt by journalists with non-heterosexual or non-binary identities on editorial policies and media company management.

“From our observations (researchers-ed), so far there has been no research that has painstakingly examined what the media editorial policy is about issues related to this gender diverse and sexually non-normative communities. And we know that the editorial policy is one of the most influential bases on the process and results of media reporting,” said Widia Primastika, the lead researcher of this research.

In this research, the team conducted three studies using qualitative methods, namely: Media framing on 10 online media from March 2020 to February 2021; Critical analysis research of media studies on editorial policy by conducting in-depth interviews on editorial policies (4 online media and 2 television media) in viewing non-normative sexuality and genders (LGBT).

Analysis of in-depth interviews with 6 journalists with non-normative sexuality and genders identities to find out the dynamics or treatment in the editors of gender diverse and sexually non-normative communities and the impact of reporting on them.

Research’s result

In the framing research, the team examined 10 online media with the most Alexa readers as of July 1, 2021, namely Okezone.com, Tribunnews.com, Kompas.com, Detik.com, Liputan6.com, Merdeka.com, Grid.id, Suara.com , Kumparan.com, Mind-rakyat.com. To narrow down the data, the researchers chose 3 news stories from 3 topics that received great attention from the public, namely news about the burning of Mira, a transwoman in Cilincing who was accused of stealing; news about pranks made by Youtuber Ferdian Paleka against trans women in Bandung; news about the ‘party’ at the Kuningan apartment organized by the ‘gay’ community.

From this research, Konde.co found that the media still use the police as the main source in reporting on criminal cases related to the LGBT community, only a few media choose to interview victims or the advocacy team from the LGBT community.

“This finding further amplifies the findings of previous research. This means that until now, the police still have a large share in the media and this has the potential to influence public perceptions regarding the gender diverse and sexually non-normative communities,” continued Widia.

Konde.co researchers also noticed that the media still uses diction and viewpoints that have negative connotations such as bencong and sissy to describe the transgender community, as well as the dictions of “same-sex”, “akin”, “deviant” to describe the gay community. Even in the news regarding the prank carried out by Ferdian Paleka, some media provide space for Ferdian Paleka to explain the reason why he made a prank based on religious norms.

The team also conducted in-depth interviews with 6 media policymakers, namely 4 online media and 2 television media. The interview was conducted given the discriminatory regulations against the “LGBT” community issued by the Indonesian Broadcasting Commission (KPI). The research found that there was adherence from two television stations to the KPI. Both tend to follow KPI’s rules regarding the prohibition of “LGBT” because of the importance of the recommendation to extend the broadcast license from KPI.

From this study, Konde.co also found that there are still television policymakers who misunderstand gender diverse and sexually non-normative communities. One of the editor-in-chiefs mentioned LGBT as a lifestyle so it shouldn’t be promoted. The mention of ‘LGBT as a lifestyle’ is not the correct term for defining “LGBT”. Likewise, there is no mention of the term heterosexual lifestyle. Researchers see this as an important note because the level of knowledge of issues at the top structural level in a media will affect editorial policies as a whole.

Good knowledge of gender and sexual diversity in the media is important because the media play a role in influencing the general public’s view of the “LGBT” community and related policy issues. Media representation can have a positive impact on members of the “LGBT” community, especially among teenagers who often experience social pressure when they have different sexual preferences. If the media presents gender and sexual diversity positively and does not discriminate against the “LGBT” community, then people can respect their human rights as individuals.

However, in practice, the media does not pay serious attention to the news related to the “LGBT” issue. This can be seen from the editorial policies, both on television and online media, which do not yet have a coverage guide related to gender and sexual diversity. Several media policymakers admitted that they have guidelines for general coverage, but they are not willing to show these rules to the research team because they are considered company secrets.

In online media, the researchers found that there is a blurred line between news writers from the journalist group and content creators. In an interview conducted by the Konde.co research team, editorial policymakers said that content creators are tasked with finding formulas to gain viewers. This position has various policies of its own which the editors cannot interfere with.

Another problem in online media is the relatively large number of journalists who cover 10-12 stories per day. The high burden of reporting makes journalists tend to pursue the quantity of news and has the potential to forget the quality of the news that they produced.

While conducting in-depth interviews with online media editorial policymakers, the research team explored the reasons for using the police as the main source in reporting on crime. From this research, online media still believe that the police are the policy-making authority over criminal events. This can be seen from the placement of journalists in special police posts.

Apart from not having a specific policy regarding communities with gender and sexual diversity, the research team found out that the media did not have the policy to organize training related to writing about non-normative sexuality and genders issues.

The results of in-depth interviews with 6 journalists with gender and sexual diversity identities show that journalists are not only “facing” editorial content and policies, but also the work environment. They admit that the editors are still thick with homophobic and transphobic cultures. This culture makes journalists feel uncomfortable. The homophobic culture in the newsroom has an impact on the news.

The research also found that the media’s concern on how they voice gender and sexual diversity with a more progressive perspective is because they were worried about being bullied by religious-based fundamentalist groups.

Recommendation

Seeing this condition, Konde.co hopes that with this research, the media can take policies following the human rights that apply in Indonesia with the principle of non-discrimination, including against individuals or groups/communities with non-normative gender and sexual diversity (“ LGBT”). Our findings regarding the knowledge gaps between the editorial crew also show that knowledge education about patriarchal ideology and SOGIE-SC is urgent at the editorial level to strengthen perspectives.

Through this research, we also recommend that the Indonesian Broadcasting Commission (KPI) reform itself and not implement discriminatory actions that cause fear of the media in “non-normative” (“LGBT”) gender and sexual diversity issues.

In addition, it also recommends that the Press Council encourage the media to have policies that are sensitive to gender and minority issues. Then form guidelines for reporting on gender-sensitive and gender and sexual diversity. This guide is significant to encourage newsrooms to be fairer to the gender diverse and sexually non-normative communities. (*)

Marina Nasution

Jurnalis televisi yang murtad dan kini mualaf di Konde.co Pengagum paradoks semesta, gemar membeli buku tapi lupa membaca.

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