Denials and Demagogues: Indonesia’s Communication Crisis Amidst a Pandemic

On 14 March, Kinan* was spending her free time binge-watching the South Korean TV drama Age of Youth. She works as a reporter for one of Indonesia’s national news outlets—a profession that leaves her with very little time to relax. Work-free weekends, in particular, are a rare treat. That night, her phone rang loudly out of the blue. One of her office superiors—an editor—was calling.

“Kinan, go check your WhatsApp,” he said without further explanation. It turned out that her office group was already flooded with messages. Kinan’s name was repeatedly mentioned in the ongoing conversation—including by her field coordinator who kept asking her: When was the last time you met in person with Transportation Minister Budi Karya?

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