Community Reporting: A Space for Community to Voice Aspirations and Opportunity to Triangulate Public Opinion Facts

“Community reporting is the delivery of information related to the community regarding the activities carried out by the community. There is more regularity according to certain themes or topics that become their attention and are reported continuously by the community,” said Andi Joko Prasetyo from the Gunungkidul Regency Disaster Risk Reduction Forum, one of the IDEAKSI innovator teams.

Through IDEAKSI, the innovator team together with the community or community members who are the main users of innovation become key actors who have a meaningful position in all innovation development initiated from the idea stage, planning, implementation, decision making, to monitoring and evaluation. Therefore, the community has many interesting stories both in the planning, implementation and monitoring stages of innovation evaluation. This good practice is important to be documented so that it can be evidence of lessons learned in conducting participatory and inclusive community-based disaster management.

In order to achieve this goal, IDEAKSI organized an introduction to community reporting training on 26-27 August 2022. In accordance with the objectives of community reporting, which is to provide space for the community to voice their aspirations and conduct advocacy through messages or news from their community, through this training the innovator team is equipped with the ability to be a mentor or companion who will curate the message to be conveyed to the wider community.

It should be realized that the expertise and skills of delivering news or reporting are not always owned by every member of the community, so continuous practice is needed to hone their abilities. Some of the challenges that arose during the discussion were as follows:

  1. For deaf people, it is difficult to communicate verbally and in writing, so deaf people need ways or tips in communicating that are appropriate in community reporting.
  2. With the wide opportunity to publicize activities or situations around them due to internet facilities, it becomes a weakness because each person can freely disseminate information without checking the facts first. Negatively, this can encourage the creation of erroneous public opinion, which then weaken the trust in community reporting image if not carefully curated.
  3. Legal protection for community reporters is still minimal, so not many community members are willing to become community reporters. Not only for community reporters, protection for respondents who are story sources is also still an obstacle so that they are not willing to tell stories. Therefore, the main principle in disclosing the identity of informants is important to prioritize the principle of protecting individuals at risk and the principle of 'do no harm', especially whether the informant is willing or not to have his identity revealed.
  4. Especially in areas where innovations are developed where the majority population is elderly people with low levels of education, the quality of the reports produced is less than optimal.

In addition, Ms. Arni Surwanti from the CIQAL Foundation said that one of the challenges in developing community reporting is related to the sensitivity of the community reporters to sort out which stories deserve to be made public messages and hold important values, or not.

Sensitivity to the content of community reports needs to be trained and assisted by those who have a better understanding. Thus, the first step to start community reporting is to select several community members who are interested in becoming community reporters. What matters is not a large number, but a few but effective. Some of the main prerequisites for a community reporter team member are: 1) have an interest; 2) have basic skills; and 3) have stability.

With these three prerequisites, it does not mean that they have to have the abilities of professional journalists, but at least it can be mapped, among others, about who has the expertise to conduct interviews, if necessary who can take photos or record audio and video, and of course literacy skills to tell stories, which will be presented as a simple news, public message or short article.

The next stage is the process of mentoring community reporters. They will learn together and be accompanied by mentors about what messages are newsworthy or not, what topics are the main issues that need to be raised or reported as messages for the wider community. Sharpness of sensitivity regarding the value of stories and news is the result of repeated practices, but it is not always obtained through training but can be raised through discussion during routine mentoring in the community.

On of the strengths that innovators already have is that most of the innovator teams already have publication media that can be a space for disseminating information and advocacy messages. However, the next question is, “How to build an impactful story?”

The following are some principles for developing a reportage that can make a difference:

  1. Every story is important.
  2. Share stories with people who understand/learn about social issues.
  3. Does not measure the impact of stories from national news broadcasts.
  4. Storytelling forms a mindset and can change perspectives.

Another important thing to consider is, does the content of the story that will be developed into a reportage have an important value and can affect the lives of people in the community and other wider communities so it is important to disseminate it?

Although we start from the principle that all stories are important, it is necessary to realize what issues are related to the story. In order to reach more audience, it is necessary to see whether the stories that will be raised are related to global issues that are currently being considered by many countries. By linking it to a global issue, if the story has value it is likely to attract the attention of institutions that have an interest in the issue.

“Our society today prefers entertaining published content. How can we get our society to pay attention to stories that are more real and not just entertainment?” Agus from SLB Bhakti Pertiwi-Sekoci Sasana Inspira asked.

This question is very relevant related to the target audience, namely how we can build public opinion that can bring positive change. Educational publications are not necessarily ignored if the packaging is attractive to the audience.

On the second day of the training, each group of innovators started the practice of community reporting by mapping out the positive (success), negative (obstacles/challenges), and potentially related to their main issue, if developed into a reportage. The main reference that becomes the topic of course is inclusive disaster management and the impact of the innovations that have been developed.

Then, based on the mapping, the participants jointly tried to explore wild ideas that emerged quickly through the rapid 8 practice, namely within 8 minutes, each participant was asked to write down eight ideas for the main topic of the report to be developed. From the Rapid 8 practice, various extraordinary and interesting wild ideas emerged which will then be discussed in each group to choose three main topics through impact and effort analysis methods.

Publication of tangible impacts, even if simple, can be started from short quotes received during field visits. Packaging a short quote into a news story, short article, or caption on a photo upload requires its own foresight. The choice of sentences for the title and headline, for example, is the key to whether the audience will continue listening to the end or not.

The following are examples of two interesting quotes that a team of innovators received and needed to practice to develop into articles or news topics:

  1. Ms. Suwarni, DIFAGANA DIY said that they had received several deaf friends who gave testimonials regarding the use of disaster applications. "So far, there has been no disaster application that is accessible for people with disabilities like this one developed, so if it is not the disability itself who is working on it, it may take a long time before we have access to a disaster application."
  2. An impact that has been felt by members of the Ngudi Mulya farmer group from Ngoro-Oro Hamlet, Giriasih Village, Kapanewon Purwosari, Gunungkidul Regency for example is, “savings, reducing costs or the budget for buying water. Besides that, farmers used to have to carry water for watering, now with fog irrigation, all you have to do is press the button, the water will flow,” said Mr. Paidi, head of the Ngudi Mulya farmer group.

The results of the impact analysis and efforts were then developed into the main frame of the story through group discussions using the storyboarding method.

Dian Hastiwi from DIFAGANA DIY said that with the storyboarding method, reportage points are easier to read so that it can help us maintain the storyline that will be developed.

After the two-day training, each team of innovators will develop a storyboarding that has been trained into a community reporting product.