PALU…From the Lenses of the Media

by Affendi Abdul Karim

Source: Image from RTM 1

It was supposed to be a usual Friday evening that day on September 28, 2018, just like many days before, in the city of Palu on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi. Even more, hundreds of people were understood to have gathered for a festival on a beach.

But unfortunately, it was a saddened day to be remembered as the city, and the nearby area of Donggala and Mamuju was hit by a magnitude 7.5 earthquake, and followed shortly by a 5-metre high tsunami. The shocking disaster has resulted in the loss of thousands of human lives and more others were displaced after their homes and buildings were destroyed and washed away.

Palu, located about 1,650 kilometres northeast of the capital, Jakarta, is a city populated by more than 300,000 residents. The city is also famous for its beautiful beaches like Tanjung Karang, Towale, Enu, Malera, and Moian. Many foreign and local tourists will commonly choose for water sports and diving for their relaxing holiday activities in Palu.

However, that common and relaxing atmosphere changes in ‘the blink of an eye’ when the Mother Nature speaks. The strong quake followed by a tsunami which smashed Palu has again moved people across the globe, after the last time the world was shocked by the most devastating Tsunami tragedy in Aceh province on December 26, 2004.

On the day after the quake-tsunami ravaged the Indonesian city of Palu, at least 832 people known to have died in the disaster. The number of dead people is also estimated to increase following the thorough search and rescue operation by the authorities across the city.

Meanwhile, the local and international media, both were seen often updating their reports of the tragedy to highlight the current situation from time to time. The Jakarta Post, Kompas TV and Metro TV were among the local media that first broadcast the breaking news and provide wide coverage about the disaster. They provided an array of footages of the incident, which not only captured through their lenses but by the amateurs.

Despite the footages, the media were also seen to cooperate with the authorities and experts on the disaster, through live interviews and by phone calls as to give the actual and most reliable reports to their audiences. In fact, they even exploited their official social media such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter actively, thus gave the local media a more effective two-way communication with their online users. This could be presumed to have assists the Indonesians and particularly the affected people with the accurate and valid information from the authorities and as to balance the input diffuse by the social media.

Meanwhile, the foreign media like the Guardian of United Kingdom, NDTV, India and the Malaysia broadcast channel, RTM, were also reporting the situation. However as a comparison, the foreign media, which their news sources lie relatively on local correspondents or news agencies, commonly involved in a slightly different approach in news reporting.

Apart from reporting the current situation or search and rescue daily operation, they were seen to facilitate their audiences by visualising the tragedy through the motion graphics and images. They even engage with experts to discuss the impact or by constructing a chronology of the incident to help their audiences in tracking or to have updating reports of the incident which happened abroad. Thus, this indirectly contributed to the people across the world who shared the sorrow and provided help to the Palu people.

The people of Palu and the nearby area were highly affected by the quake-tsunami tragedy. After nearly a month of the incident, the number of dead people is estimated to have reached more than 2,200 and many more are still missing. Approximately 70,000 houses and building were destroyed, damaged and resulted to thousands of people were displaced.

Obviously, it is definitely hard for the affected people to rise again from the tragedy. So, it should be best for the Malaysian to help their neighbour in any ways they can. But, the most important one is to learn the lesson and be prepared to any possible disaster.


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