Journalism competence and the COVID-19 crisis in Southeast Asia
Toward journalism as a transformative and interdisciplinary enterprise
The COVID-19 crisis across the world has posed a daunting challenge to journalism as a discipline. Indeed, how the journalism profession performs at this time could have game-changing implications on its already beleaguered role as a source of information in society. This article deals with the subject of journalistic competencies necessary in such crisis times, when interpreting and disseminating technical or scientific information becomes crucial in news work in a region that is vastly different from the West or the ‘Global North’—Southeast Asia. The issues and relevant concepts of journalistic competence and science journalism, especially in the time of digital and economic disruptions are discussed in relation to: 1) literature on journalistic roles and the character of media systems in Southeast Asia, and 2) data from in-depth interviews with selected experts from 31 countries. This article argues that, based on literature and a growing consensus among experts, journalism can best strengthen its role in society by shifting its standards and norms under a transformative and interdisciplinary perspective, which for a long time has been hindered by the inertia of the industry and industry-centered journalism education.
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