INDONESIA: Golkar gives 'Suara Karya' a makeover
Party-owned paper, formerly a parrot for Suharto and associates, seeks to reemerge as a non-partisan, mainstream newspaper
The Jakarta Post
Thursday, March 31, 2005
After 32 years as the mouthpiece of the ruling Golkar Party during the Soeharto regime, the Suara Karya daily is changing its look and content in a bid to attract more readers.
Golkar, led by Vice President Jusuf Kalla, relaunched the newspaper on Wednesday evening at the Mulia Hotel in Jakarta, vowing not to use the daily to serve its political interests.
"The paper should be acceptable to all elements of society. Our vision is to report the news accurately. The news must not be biased toward the party's interests, even though the paper belongs to Golkar," Edward Seki Soeryadjaya, the new business manager of the paper, said on Tuesday.
"I do not believe anybody is willing to spend thousands of rupiah just to be brainwashed," he added.
Edward, a businessman and a Golkar deputy treasurer, said the paper would no longer serve the party's interests but would instead focus on attracting policymakers and businesspeople.
He said the 16-page newspaper planned to upgrade the skills of its reporters and eventually expand to 20 pages.
"We will also publish on holidays and add more colored pages to attract a new segment of readers. To do that, we will recruit 30 more journalists to support our editorial staff," said Bambang Soesatyo, the paper's new chief editor.
As the sole owner of the daily, Golkar is authorized to appoint the paper's management. On Feb. 17, Golkar leader Kalla announced that party official Theo L. Sambuaga would be the newspaper's new president director.
Bambang Soesatyo, Theo's deputy in Golkar's information, communication and telecommunications department, was named the paper's new editor-in-chief, replacing Bambang Sudono.
Suara Karya was first published on March 11, 1971, when Golkar was contesting its first general elections. During the Soeharto years, civil servants made up the bulk of the paper's readership, as they were unofficially obliged to buy Suara Karya.
Following the 1998 downfall of Soeharto, the paper's circulation dropped sharply from 300,000 to 3,000.
Edward said the paper now published 80,000 copies daily, a reflection of Golkar's returning popularity. The party received the most votes in the 2004 general election.
Analysts have speculated that Suara Karya could be used to promote Golkar's candidates in upcoming local elections, as the party aims to win 60 percent of regional leadership posts across the country.
Edward, however, said the newspaper would not give free space to Golkar candidates.
"If they want to campaign for themselves through us, they have to advertise, just like other candidates," he said.
Date Posted: 3/31/2005