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What is the News? Criticism, Debate and Community in Indonesia's Local Press

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Community newspapers are recognized as a potentially effective means of improving participation and equity. In this article, I discuss one local newspaper that has been established since the introduction of media reforms in post-Suharto Indonesia. This newspaper is published in the Luwu region of South Sulawesi, which has undergone significant subdivision within Indonesia's radical decentralization programme. Many of the problems occurring in the country's transition to democracy are evident here. New local government bodies are being established at a number of different levels, and issues including armed conflict, unreliable policing, unemployment, and poverty must also be addressed. Yet, whereas grassroots strengthening is imperative for overcoming all those issues, the local press focuses on the bureaucracy, and does not act sufficiently to develop an informed critical awareness, or the widespread confidence that equitable change can be achieved.


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