Giving voice to the underrepresented through digital media –

Giving voice to the underrepresented through digital media –

Recently, the mainstream media in Indonesia was heated with a celebrity scandal – one popular “dream couple” filed for divorce and reported a domestic assault case. This unfortunate affair created a huge ripple on the nation’s entertainment industry; however, another popular couple used the moment and turned it into a prank video for their YouTube channel, in which they tried to file a fake domestic violence case to the police.

While it was a sad occurrence, it is even sadder that the second couple dared to even think to make that kind of content, signalling that it is an acceptable content for the people of Indonesia (spoiler alert: it’s not). This kind of problematic mindset is one of the things that is fighting against. They are one of a very few platform in Indonesia that addressed the controversy from an educational angle regarding the realities of domestic violence, and why they should not have made this issue a joke – compared to other news platforms that focused on the criminal investigation following this issue, or the profiles of these already-famous celebrities.

With their inclusive digital journalistic platform, is trying to educate the people of Indonesia about issues that are considered sensitive and taboo in this conservative nation – from women’s rights, gender equality, feminism to LGBTQIA+ and human rights. This platform has since 2013 given voice to the underrepresented, as shown by their manifesto in this video:



Tracing the line to new media and activism issues, building a new media platform is not a simple ordeal. Especially when they promote a certain ideology opposing the majority’s. ICT has in a sense help enable Magdalene to grow, to become an important platform of learning for some people. The old form of printed media would be very difficult to build, in terms of funding, censorship, even to find the right readers for it. But since the internet made it possible for everyone to read their piece of information online, it facilitates them in reaching their targeted audience, although it is still tough to make this platform sustainable due to the topics they cover.

The fight for women empowerment comes in many ways

Having a non-conservative label in Indonesia is not easy. Being open minded is the same as being “different”, it promotes a negative stigma about oneself and risks getting threats from the extreme religious-based conservative groups. It is implied by the people that this way of thinking promotes a Western perspective, which usually is labeled too modern and wrong, or simply full of sin. Magdalene is not immune from that, judging from the comments they got on their Instagram platform, usually whenever they are trying to communicate about LGBT-rights.


Visa detta inlägg på Instagram


Ett inlägg delat av Magdalene (@magdaleneid)


In this video, they are using satire to educate Indonesians, “What is the agenda behind the LGBT community?”. While Magdalene was essentially showing that the LGBT-community just want to live normally without discrimination and other persecution, they were getting some negative feedbacks, such as “unfollowed” or “Wow, this account is defending the deviants. You guys are open minded, but it has gone too far”, followed by a huge debate on what is right or wrong according to their respective religions. Anti-LGBT gestures are no stranger amongst the Asian countries, according to the Human Rights Watch reports. Indonesia is not exempt from that, but the existence of a local-based digital platform like Madeleine shows the fights of the people for basic human rights in Indonesia.


  1. Livia Podestà

    Thanks Vidi for sharing this brave project!
    Do you know if the journalists and editors of Magdalene have received threats in their lives, moreover than online hatred?
    This project seems to be very much needed in such a conservative country, giving voice to the underrepresented and marginalised, showing diversity and inclusion, and making feel people who differ from the traditional norms that they are not alone.
    Also very important that they take a stance against men violence against women, and publicly show that joking about a serious issue is not acceptable.
    As O´Donnell wrote, social media “has the power of portraying the brutal realities in real time, which can lead concrete outcomes that benefit women” (O’Donnell and Sweetman, 2018: 3), giving as an example the #Metoo movement that thanks to social media and internet quickly became a global movement with significant changes in society both in terms of awareness, attitude and in some countries even legislation. Hopefully Magdalene, thanks to ICT, can reach many progressive readers and have an impact in nudging toward a more tolerant and open society.

    1. Vidi

      Hi Livia, sadly yes, according to the Journalist’s Association of Indonesia (AJI), Magdalene got a cyberattack that resulted in their website being unaccessible for awhile on May 2020. They also have received several intimidation and doxing, including harrasment comments. Other news agency who focuses on investigative news have also received similar cyberattack, therefore in general a practice of journalism is risky in Indonesia, yet important.

  2. Christina

    Hi Vidi, what an interesting post and important topic. That platform is fighting for such an important cause, it is inspiring to read. I find it so impressive and courageous to fight for these causes even though it is or can be quite dangerous. Yet, it is so important. When people are for example confronted with this kind of prank videos that you mentioned in your text, people might not dare to speak up anymore if they have experienced such an assault themselves. Moreover, like they say in the video, it reflects poorly on social media and the Internet in general – even though online platforms can be so important in spreading awareness, giving voice to people and effecting positive change. What an important platform.

    1. Vidi

      Thank you Christina for your comment. ICT is indeed important in spreading positive change, but I’d like to also consider that internet is a platform for everyone. Therefore we do share platform with people who also wants to spread hatred and negativity, especially when confronted with knowledge changes that they do not receive well. It really depends on the individual to choose things they want to learn wisely, because everything is available online.

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