Covid-19 and journalism conundrums: a study on dilemmas in content selection

  • Chelin Indra Sushmita Sebelas Maret University
  • Pawito Pawito Universitas Sebelas Maret Surakarta
  • Andre Novie Rahmanto Universitas Sebelas Maret
Keywords: online journalism, Covid-19, content selection, disaster journalism, news value


The study examined journalism practices covering Coronavirus disease (Covid-19), particularly online journalism in Solo, one of the metropolitan cities in Central Java Province of Indonesia. Solo is the first city in Indonesia to declare an extraordinary event due to the Covid-19 pandemic after coronavirus-linked deaths were reported. The notion of a dilemmatic situation, mainly in content selection, is the central perspective in this research. This research referred to news value theory and agenda-setting that used a qualitative approach method. The data were obtained through interviews with 20 journalists of online media in Solo. We also included non-participatory observation in the newsroom. The study suggests that, to some extent, journalists face a dilemma in choosing content to present news that concerns the public interest during the Covid-19 pandemic. The dilemma included determining interesting issues, attracting the public interest, and becoming meaningful to the readers, but not to endanger the personal safety and maintain professional sustainability because there is no news worthy of a life.



Author Biography

Chelin Indra Sushmita, Sebelas Maret University
Postgraduated Student of Communication Science Department Faculty of Social and Political Sciences


Abubakar, A. T. (2020). News Values and the Ethical Dilemmas of Covering Violent Extremism. Journalism and Mass Communication Quarterly, 97(1), 278–298.

AJI. (2020). Protokol Keamanan Liputan & Pemberitaan COVID-19.

Althaus, S., & Tewksbury, Da. (2002). Agenda Setting and the “ New ” News the New York Times. Communication Research.

American Press Institute. (2021). The elements of journalism.

Arif, A. (2010). Jurnalisme Bencana Bencana Jurnalisme. KPG (Kepustakaan Populer Gramedia).

Asmara, C. G. (2020, April). Jokowi Sebut Tak Ada Satupun Negara yang Siap Hadapi Covid-19. Cnbcindonesia.Com.

Baskara, B. (2020, April). Rangkaian Pertama Peristiwa Covid-19. Kompas.Id.

Bernadas, J. M. A. C., & Ilagan, K. (2020). Journalism, public health, and COVID-19: some preliminary insights from the Philippines. Media International Australia, 177(1), 132–138.

Candra, S. A. (2020). Jokowi Umumkan Dua Kasus Pertama Positif Corona di Indonesia. Republika.Co.Id.

CNN Indonesia. (2020). Solo Deklarasikan KLB Corona. Cnnindonesia.Com.

Creswell, J. W. (2015). Penelitian kualitatif dan desain riset (memilih diantara lima pendekatan) (S. Z. Qudsy (ed.); 3rd Editio). Pustaka Pelajar.

Peraturan Dewan Pers, Pub. L. No. 5 (2008).

Dewan Pers. (2020). Siaran Pers Media Diimbau Perhatikan Kode Etik Jurnalistik.

Foundation Hirondelle. (2020). The Vital Role of Journalism in Times of Crisis.

Griffin, E., Ledbetter, A., & Sparks, G. G. (2018). A First Look At Communication Theory, 10th Edition. In Communication.

Herlambang, A. A. (2020). Menjaga Amanah di Tengah Ketatnya Persaingan. Ayosemarang.Com.

Herlinda, O. (2020). Menimbang Peran Media dalam Menghadapi Epidemi. Remotivi.or.Id.

Heryanto, A. (2020). Media. Kompas.Id.

Houston, J. B., Pfefferbaum, B., & Rosenholtz, C. E. (2012). Disaster news: Framing and frame changing in coverage of major U.S. natural disasters, 2000-2010. Journalism and Mass Communication Quarterly.

Houston, J. B., Schraedley, M. K., Worley, M. E., Reed, K., & Saidi, J. (2019a). Disaster journalism: fostering citizen and community disaster mitigation, preparedness, response, recovery, and resilience across the disaster cycle. Disasters, 43(3), 591–611.

Houston, J. B., Schraedley, M. K., Worley, M. E., Reed, K., & Saidi, J. (2019b). Disaster Journalism: Fostering Citizen and Community Disaster Mitigation, Preparedness, Response, Recovery, and Resilience Across the Disaster Cycle. Disasters, 43(3), 591–611.

Isnanto, B. A. (2020). Solo KLB Corona, Kelelawar di Pasar Depok Dimusnahkan. Detik.Com.

Kriyantono, R. (2006). Teknik Praktis Riset komunikasi - Rachmat Kriyantono, S.Sos., M.Si - Google Books. Kencana Prenada Media Group.

Kusumaningrat, H., & Kusumaningrat, P. (2012). Jurnalistik Teori dan Praktik. PT Remaja Rosda Karya.

McCombs, M. E., Shaw, D. L., & Weaver, D. H. (2014). New Directions in Agenda-Setting Theory and Research. Mass Communication and Society.

Muqsith, M. A. (2020). Tantangan Baru Jurnalisme Dalam Pandemi Covid-19. ’Adalah, 4(September), 251–258.

Nasionalita, K. (2015). Relevansi Teori Agenda Setting dalam Dunia Tanpa Batas. Jurnal Ilmiah Komunikasi MAKNA, 5(2), 105–113.

Natalegawa, A., & Jasper, K. (2020). Newsrooms in Crisis: Covid-19 and Journalism in Indonesia.

Ninkovic-Slavnic, D. (2016). Agenda setting in the world of online news: New questions for new environment. CM: Communication and Media, 11(38), 47–70.

Nuruddin. (2007). Pengantar Teori Komunikasi Massa. Raja Grafindo Persada.

Olsen, R. K., Pickard, V., & Westlund, O. (2020). Communal News Work: COVID-19 Calls for Collective Funding of Journalism. Digital Journalism, 8(5), 673–680.

Olson, T. L., Roggman, L. A., & Innocenti, M. S. (2016). Developmental research methods with infants & young children. In The Curated Reference Collection in Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Psychology (Vol. 1). Elsevier.

Palmer, C., & Bolderston, A. (2006). A Brief Introduction to Qualitative Research. Canadian Journal of Medical Radiation Technology, 37(1), 16–19.

Pollack, R., Burki, N., Casstellanos, O., Nadal, V., Gugliemi, S., & Fabeyro, C. G. (2020). Journalism, Press Freedom and Covid-19.

Rakhmat, J. (1988). Sosiologi Komunikasi Massa. Remaja Rosda Karya.

RATTIEN, S. (1990). The Role of the Media in Hazard Mitigation and Disaster Management. Disasters.

Shoemaker, P. J. (2006). News and newsworthiness: A commentary. Communications.

Siregar, A. (1998). Bagaimana Meliput Dan Menulis Berita Untuk Media Massa. Kanisius.

Siregar, A. (2012a). Berita Jurnalistik: Menulis Singkat-Padat.

Siregar, A. (2012b). Wawancara Jurnalistik.

Taher, A. P. (2020). Menkes Terawan: Dua Orang Terkena Virus Corona di Depok. Tirto.Id.

Trilling, D., & Tolochko, P. (2017). From Newsworthiness to Shareworthiness : How to Predict News Sharing Based on Article Characteristics.

Umeogu, B., & Ifeoma, O. (2012). Crisis Journalism and World Peace. Advances in Applied Sociology, 02(02), 155–158.

White, J. (2011). Book Review: The SAGE Handbook of Qualitative Research. Evaluation Journal of Australasia, 11(2), 52–53.

Yasyi, D. N. (2020). Perjuangan Jurnalisme Positif di Tengah Pandemi. GNFI.

How to Cite
Sushmita, C., Pawito, P., & Rahmanto, A. (2021). Covid-19 and journalism conundrums: a study on dilemmas in content selection. Jurnal Studi Komunikasi, 5(2), 471-492.