Media Center in Disaster Emergency Response

In the context of disaster management in Indonesia, Disaster Emergency Media Center is established as requested by incident commander (IC) at on-scene. Government started initiating to form a media center during emergency response in Padang earthquake 2009. Afterwards in 2010, the National Disaster Management Authority (BNPB) as the focal point began immediately the media center under incident command post. It was a policy based on field condition even though it was not stated in the regulation during that time.

UntitledMedia center is required during crisis and post-disaster because public, such as community, humanitarian actors, donors, and mass media needs actual data and information. Meanwhile, the information what is demanded are recent condition, potential hazard, impact on casualty and damages, evacuee, relief aid, and urgent needs to be mobilized. Learning from best practice in Merapi 2010, media center had a central role in term of data provision, information, coordination and clarification on problems from site.

Communication network and information were not only presented in conventional way such as press conference and press release, but also TV shows, community radio, website, blog, message broadcast using blackberry messenger. During that time, social media was not as popular as todays. Merapi media center is a model of the media center during emergency response that initiated BNPB to organize a regulation, i.e. Perka BNPB Number 8 Year 2013 about Disaster Emergency Response Media Center.

Meanwhile in the revised regulation on Command System of Disaster Emergency, i.e. Perka No. 3 of 2016 on the System Command Emergency Management Disaster, media center is not concretely mentioned even though the function is attached to one unit under Commander Post, which is the unit of data, information and Public Relations. With the revision of the Perka, Perka media center also requires adjustments to be revised.


At the emergency response, local government in this case the Regional Disaster Management Agency (BPBD) still has a problem in operating the media center. Some of the factors behind the performance of the media center.

  • The dynamics of the local government. When we look at the functions of public relations at the district and provincial, bureau of public relations (PR) is in the secretariat. But there is also a public relations unit in a particular department. This means the heads of regions have a strategic policy to put a public relations unit in the governance structure. The media center is in dire need of human resources that are well suited to the specifications of those working in the public relations unit. At least they have a basic knowledge of how to build relationships with the media, writing releases, reporting, or to package information in a different perspective. But the next challenge, the public relations unit under the secretariat or certain department and not under BPBDs not necessarily have a sense of crisis. Generally, they are facing conditions of ‘normal.’ At BPBDs organizational structure, perhaps all BPBDs at provincial and district level in Indonesia do not have a public relations unit. Works related with public relations are under the authority of the official concerned. Though the work of public relations desperately needs a special competence.
  • Synergies among government agencies and partners. Often located in the disaster area became known obstacle in establishing a media center, namely the multi-stakeholder synergy. Actually the government at district and province has enough resources to build a media center. Seeing some catastrophic event, a new media center woke up five days after the disaster occurred. It was the media operations center is not optimal. Synergies have not materialized as well at the local level. The medcencommand post is initiated by BPBDs able to mobilize all relevant agencies in the area or the multi-stakeholder, as a volunteer, non-governmental organizations, military, police, or even private sector. BPBDs can take advantage of information and communication services for communication network media center and using human resources from secretariat public relations to operationalize the media center. Moreover, supports from personnel from the private sector, such as Telkomsel that has the emergency response units, military, and volunteers. On the other hand, a commitment from the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology that the media center at the provincial level procurement can be mobilized to the county or city level in emergency relief. Synergies are very important in these conditions.

Finding Solutions

The media center is very important to build public opinion related to the current condition of the disaster. We often encounter the mass media always expose the suffering, aid that has not arrived, grief, death of the victims. While the spirit to rise crews rarely reported in the media. The survivor of a disaster event can be covered and publicized to encourage the packaging style of journalism. Though the spirit rise needed by the casualties and the affected residents to organize the return (bounce back).

The media center can also inform the public about the urgent need for disaster victims. Mobilize appropriate assistance is needed in the handling of the emergency command post so that the subsequent effect that the allocation of operational funds managed by the Post can effectively use its other emergency needs. It’s one of the benefits of the media center during emergency response.

Thus, the personnel who have competence in the field of public relations and public relations unit in BPBDs recommended to be formed. It is located in particular at the time of the emergency response. Practice hard, personnel from the public relations at secretariat to urgently assist BPBDs during emergency response. Working patterns, knowledge of disaster, a sense of crisis and speed may not be owned by those who work in public relations unit at secretariat.

On the other hand, unit publicist attached to BPBDs very instrumental to pack very valuable information to build community preparedness at the time of catastrophe does not occur, for example, delves into local wisdom in facing disasters, advance information about the potential dangers, and reminding residents to the region have disaster risk. Personnel attached to the unit publicist BPBDs will form a sense of crisis because of disaster knowledge and experience. In this context, the regional head has full authority to optimize BPBDs awareness in the region and will notify residents’ preparedness and prevention.

Related with the synergies, it is highly required strong efforts by regional heads and apparatuses related agencies. Leadership is a key to successful multi-stakeholder synergy in the operations of the media center. When personnel have the competencies needed in the media center, although he volunteered to support the operation of the media center. Communication and coordination are positive factors to build synergy. But it was likely anyone having special competence is called to contact the commander of the post to provide operational support media center.

Through the media center that has been established at early time after the disaster, information to the public can be published immediately. Inconsistencies in the news can be reduced and the need for early treatment can be given immediately through the post. Media center emergency response time has come to operate in the early stages when times of crisis or disaster occur in the area


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