chapter  10
22 Pages

From early warning system to trauma healing: alternative media and disaster relief in Central Java


Introduction: media, disaster relief and community resilience This chapter focuses on the role of alternative media such as community radio, popular theatre, performance art and community video in disaster relief and community resilience, particularly in the context of the May 2006 earthquake in Yogyakarta Province, Indonesia.1 The contributions of these media range from issuing early warning signals to rebuilding a sense of social cohesion and cultural identity in the aftermath of a disaster. The Indonesian alternative media not only complements the material reconstruction efforts of local communities, but also relates to an informational and spiritual domain that has been insufficiently covered by domestic and international public and commercial media. Following Raymond Williams (1980), Chris Atton (2002: 4, 25) describes alternative media as comprising various degrees of the ‘decapitalization’, ‘deprofessionalization’ and ‘deinstitutionalization’ of communication. Alternative media facilitates a potentially more democratic form of communication, as it gives access to media production, distribution and consumption to people who are excluded by the financial, professional and institutional structures of the mainstream media (Dowmunt with Coyer 2007: 1; Howley 2010a: 75, 2010b: 4, 2010c: 16). Alternative media is not limited to media with an explicit or radical political agenda, but includes any media that enables people to reflect on and transform processes of communication in relation to their specific social circumstances (Atton 2002: 7, 30; Howley 2010c: 17-19; Dowmunt with Coyer 2007: 3-4). Community media is a specific form of alternative media in which different types of information and informational values ‘are produced by the same people whose concerns they represent, from a position of engagement and direct participation’ (Atton 2002: 16-17; Traber 1985). The 2002 Indonesian Broadcasting Law includes community media as a fourth official category of broadcast media, after public, commercial and subscription broadcasting services. In Indonesia, community media is usually described as media ‘from, by and for the people’, as it provides local people with the opportunity to create their own media content and to participate in media ownership and management (Nazarrudin and Hermanto 2009; Jurriëns 2009: 141-58; Birowo 2011).