This month saw the demise of two major newspapers in Indonesia. The first was Indo Pos, the newspaper that the Jawa Pos Group started in 2003 to serve the Greater Jakarta, Banten and West Java area.
Then came the closure of the 33-year old Suara Pembaruan the evening dailythat was published as a replacement for Sinar Harapan, which had been shut down in 1986 for making political commentary critical of the New Order regime.
In a message to its employees’ WhatsApp Group on January 4, Rizky Darmawindra, the director and main shareholder of PT. Indopos Intermedia Press, the legal entity that owns Indopos, said that the paper’s print and online operations will cease operations from December, 30, 2019.
Indo Pos had a claimed circulation of about 104,000 in 2019 but, like many mainstream organizations, had been faced with waning revenues and circulation because of social media and the internet. The pandemic only worsened things and hastened its demise.
At the time of its closing, it had dozens of employees. Rizky had also informed them that they were entitled to their salaries plus an extra month’s compensation and that they were to make their claims by January 6, 2021.
A senior Suara Pembaruan editor, said that the daily’s financial report had remained in the red in the past two years and this was the main reason for its closure. Its less than 100 employees be discharged by PT. Media Interaction Utama, a company majority owned by the Lippo Group.
Suara Pembaruan doesn’t have an online publication but it’s reporters file stories for it’s parent company Beritasatu on Beritasatu.com. The company has decided to only keep a few people to man its editorial team. Former Suara Pembaruan daily employees could be reemployed at Beritasatu.com but under a new arrangement and only under a contract system.
In the case of Indo Pos, its founder, Joko Intarto, told Maverick Indonesia that the success, or failure, of the print media business depended on its management and editorial staff. Indo Pos was no exception, and the once major media outlet in Jakarta finally had to suffer too.
According to Joko, disruption and shifting were two words that sounded very familiar to the generation living in this current millennial era. Disruption is a distraction that causes the industry to not run properly, due to the presence of new competitors who are efficient, and more effective, as well as new technological inventions that are changing the business map. Meanwhile, shifting is a pattern shift that occurs massively as a result of disruption.
“The collapse of the Indo Pos newspaper was indeed announced by the management and editorial staff on January 4, 2021. However, the cause of the demise of Indo Pos daily, which was first published on February 25, 2003, remained a mystery,” said the man who is more popularly known as JTO and was the chief editor of Indo Pos until 2007.
Are the management and editorial staff not okay? “I cannot simply come to that conclusion. I perceive that this phenomenon is affecting many other print media: newspapers, magazines, and tabloids. In my opinion, the collapse of a number of print media is due to the failure of the management and editorial to quickly adapt to the staff late adaptation by the management and editorial staff in adapting to the new changing trends,” Joko explained.
The problem faced by the print media, according to Joko, was actually not a weak management and editorial staff. They had already proven that they can make the newspaper exist for years. They have proven that they could make this newcomer in the newspaper business compete with Kompas, the market leader in the city.
The threat to conventional media, especially the print media, began to appear in 2005. Everyone certainly remembers that at the time, cell phones began to turn into smartphones. Although it started with limited capabilities, communication technology underwent a really rapid development. From the initial 2G (voice and text), mobile phones quickly became smartphones that adopted 3G (voice, text, video), and later 4G (voice, text, video, and internet).
The emergence of internet features on smartphones was actually the real threat. Although it did not actually directly threaten conventional media, the internet did change how consumers of conventional media consumed news and information. “Whatever the media, without exception. Newspaper readers, radio listeners, or TV viewers. All became interested in the internet. So the internet became like a vacuum cleaner,” he said.
It is true that at the time, internet speed was still low. Bandwidth prices were also still very expensive. Cellular-based internet networks could only be enjoyed in a number of major cities on Java island. But Indo Pos ‘exists’ in Jakarta: the national capital, the largest city, the most advanced and with the most complete facilities.
When conventional media could no longer channel aspirations, online media became the solution. “The comfort zone often makes it difficult for us to adapt. It is not that they could not, but they just did not want to change. So, the demise of the print media appeared to repeat the sad story of Blackberry which lost to Android and Yahoo, which are now under Google’s hold. The biggest obstacle to adaptation turned out to be us, ourselves,” said Joko.
During the period 2019-2020 the circulation of Indo Pos continued to decline sharply to around 5.000 copies. Even that was not all sold out in the market or in newsstands. Home subscribers had also become out of reach. And in developing a website, especially in relations to the development of infrastructure, Indo Pos was almost left far behind by the other print media.And it was not only that. One after the other, members of the editorial staff of Indo Pos began since early 2020 to leave the media. It then became increasingly difficult for Indo Pos, which is part of the Jawa Pos Group, to step up the quality of its coverage, its advertisements and sales. At the age of just 17 years and 10 months, Indo Pos became a mere memory.