When news becomes entertainment: Representations of corruption in Indonesia’s media and the implication of scandal

21 November 2013

In the current political climate, the Indonesian media is able to report openly on a range of previously taboo political issues (Sen & Hill, 2000; Kakiailatu, 2007; Tapsell, 2010). One issue that garners substantial attention is that of corruption. In stark contrast to the limited media reporting on corruption prior to 1998, it has been a stalwart issue for the press since the Reformation era (1998–), dominating both print and television media. This paper explores how corruption has been portrayed in the media, concluding that there is a clear tendency towards a ‘politics-as-entertainment’ depiction of corruption cases, as evidenced by the inclination towards ‘scandalising’ the issue. This paper argues that this format of reporting has broad implications for the anti-corruption movement in Indonesia because it trivialises a key political issue and can ultimately discourage meaningful public debate and engagement with the anti-corruption movement.