The Society of Indonesian Science Journalists (SISJ) recently held the 1st face-to-face meeting of its science journalists mentoring program (Jakarta, 21-22 July 2017). The program, which is funded by The Sasakawa Peace Foundation from Japan and The British Council from UK, focuses on food reporting as its core.

According to Harry Surjadi, the Chairman of the SISJ, food issues are obviously important but yet neglected in the country’s mass media, both local and national.

“We aim to train young journalists across the Indonesian archipelago to learn about science journalism and to use it for food issues coverage,” says Surjadi.

Indonesia, a country well known for its abundant natural resources, is full of paradoxes in term of food issues. For example, the inhabitants mostly eat “tempeh”, a fermented soybeans cake-like, but most of these beans are imported from the United States. The country is also rich in other carbohydrate food resources but these commodities are not well developed compared to rice. This kind of paradox has not been well reported in Indonesia especially on a provincial scale.

Thus, the mentoring program gathered 20 young journalists from local newspapers such as Central Java, Southeast Sulawesi, West Kalimantan, and Jambi (Sumatra) to learn about science journalism and on how to use it to report on local issues.

“By gathering young journalists from local media, we hope that science journalism will flourish in on all the major islands and that it will help provide an answer to the local food problems,” said Surjadi.

The meeting was held from 21-22 July 2017 in Jakarta. It was attended by representatives from the Department of Agriculture, an NGO that works on food sovereignty as well as researchers from Bogor Agricultural University.

The science journalists mentoring program will involve online interactions between mentors and mentees and produce science stories that will be published in both national and local media. It is an Indonesian-version of Science Journalism Cooperation (SjCOOP) in Asia.

Article by Dyna Rochmyaningsih, an SISJ’s member
Jakarta, Indonesia – 7th August 2017.

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