Tue, 06 May 2003

The medium is as important as the message

Why has the government information campaign basically failed in Papua?

The answers may have to do as much with the low penetration of the media among the Papuan people as with the message itself.

The IFES polling survey of 3,450 respondents found that many people in the province have no access to any type of media at all, making them virtually isolated from the rest of the world, and not just the rest of Indonesia.

The survey found that 52 percent of Papuans own radio, 41 percent have television, 17 percent read newspapers and one percent read magazines.

But as many as 34 percent of the population have no means of keeping them abreast of what is happening in their own vicinity, and in the rest of the world.

The provincial figures conceal a darker reality about the disparity, not between rural and urban (which is heavily skewed towards the urban), but more disturbingly, between the eight major different tribes (Table 4).

Table 4. Which media do you have access to in your home?

.tb0.1" 1.0" 2.0" 2.5" 3.2" 4.0" 4.6" 5.4" 6.0"

Lani/Dani Yaly Asmat Marind Biak Sentani Moi Baham

Radio 49 39 8 26 63 84 58 68

TV 15 10 4 2 61 71 42 47 Newspaper 15 7 3 2 28 48 6 34

Magazine - - - - 5 - - -

None 42 58 92 73 18 7 28 23 Source: Public Opinion Survey Papua Indonesia, IFES


Newspapers are mainly read for news purposes (88 percent), while radio is mainly listened to for news purposes. Television is used to access both news (52 percent) and entertainment (46 percent). The survey found no significant difference in media usage between different tribes.

Most television (88 percent) and radio (90 percent) owners watch and listen every day. Newspapers are read mostly on a weekly basis (55 percent) though 31 percent of respondents read them everyday.

While the low penetration may have to do with Papua's difficult terrain and poor infrastructure that makes distribution or access difficult, there is certainly a strong need for significant improvement.

The onus is more on the government to try to reach out to all the Papuans if it wants to win their hearts and minds and keep the territory part of the republic.