Human Rights Watch Indonesia researcher Andreas Harsono said that the basic principle of journalism must be in mind and carried out by anyone who reads or watches the West Papua news, both those reported by the mass media and social media users. The relevant Human Rights Watch report (PDF) in 2015 describing access to information about Papua was limited even since the area was not part of Indonesia in the 1960s. In the end, the media relies heavily on information from the police and the military, parties that are usually referred to as “official” sources. Basing yourself only from one source makes the news not credible. One of West Papua conflict, the killing of dozens of workers at the Trans Papua Road project in the Yall District, Nduga District, on December 2, was one example.
PT Istaka Karya, the company responsible for the workers, has not been able to ascertain the number of workers who were victims. While the media based in Jakarta reported as many as 31 people became victims. They are called dead shot. These media cited information provided by the Head of the Papua Regional Police Public Relations Commissioner A.M. Kamal. Meanwhile, Suara Papua and Tabloid Jubi, two local Papuan media, said that 24 workers died. While loading information from the police and military, the two media interviewed local officials, in this case the Deputy Chairperson of the DPRD Nduga Alimin Gwijangge. “There were 24 people killed. Two others escaped,” Gwijangge said.
Victor Mambor, a journalist at Tabloid Jubi who wrote the news, told Tirto that Jubi journalists could not go to the location to check the truth of the information on the killings of the workers and its relation to free West Papua movement. Nduga is one of the remote areas in the Central Highlands of Papua. The most reliable transportation to get to the area is by plane. In Victor’s experience, he had to spend Rp1.7 million to fly from the nearest airport in Wamena to Kenyam airport in Nduga. From Kenyam, the capital city of Nduga, journalists must travel 3-4 motorized trips to Mbua. From there, you still have to walk to the location of the murder. Communication at the scene can only use single sideband (SSB) radio. In order to pay for transportation and accommodation, the coverage of one reporter there could cost IDR 5 million.