Why Indonesia’s Farmers Are Using Cell Phones to Report the News

Jul 122013

When a company in Indonesia reduced a passable village road to a pool of mud, local farmers reported the damage by text message to a local TV station, and the company was forced to fix the road.

Until recently, incidents like this usually went unreported by the media. The country's farmers were frequently forced off their property due to violations by hundreds of plantation companies, environmental journalist and media trainer Harry Surjadi told The Jakarta Post.

Surjadi realized the farmers had a tool that could change that: the cell phone. As part of his recent ICFJ Knight International Journalism Fellowship, he taught them basic journalism skills, including observation skills, data collection, news writing for SMS and beginning reporting.

Now, nearly 200 indigenous farmers in remote villages are using cell phones to report on land grabbing, illegal logging and illicit land clearing. They send text messages using RuaiSMS, a communication channel that uses mobile phones and FrontlineSMS. Their reports flow to a local TV station, RuaiTV, where they are displayed anonymously in news tickers.

Read the full post on IJNet.


The International Journalists' Network, IJNet, keeps professional and citizen journalists up to date on the latest media innovations, online journalism resources, training opportunities and expert advice. ICFJ produces IJNet in seven languages: Arabic, Chinese, English, Persian, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish. IJNet is supported by donors including the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

Image CC-licensed on Flickr via CGIAR Climate.