Atma Connect Empowers Indonesian Civil Society to Counter Disinformation

Jakarta, 29 November 2022. Atma Connect Chief Executive Officer Meena Palaniappan and USAID Indonesia Mission Director Jeffrey Cohen opened an interactive talk show, entitled `Make a Bigger Impact: Effective Writing for Advocacy!’, that promotes the roles of communications as an advocacy tool in an era of increasing disinformation and distrust.

Social media has become part of many people’s lives and has changed the way the community interacts. Social media has many positive effects on our society; however, the new media platform has also served to accelerate the spread of hoax and false news. During the COVID-19 pandemic in Indonesia, the Ministry of Communication and Information recorded that almost 6,000 false information related to COVID-19 were spread. This is very detrimental to society.

The talk show, hosted at @america, the U.S. Embassy Jakarta’s Cultural Center, presents speakers who understand the power of writing to advocate for local solutions to social problems and to influence positive changes in their communities. Mahatma Putra, a documentary filmmaker, shared his experience in writing an engaging script for a short video clip. While Ika Ningtyas, a journalist from the Alliance of Independence Journalists (AJI), shared lessons learned on how to make messages stand out, grab people’s attention, and to be noticed amongst the crowded messaging landscape. The event also premiered a short video on civil society contributions to public service improvements, “A Shared Mindfulness”.

Since 2020, Atma Connect has collaborated with USAID MADANI Civil Society Support project to improve the writing skills of civil society organization (CSO) partners’ staff to create high-quality products that will help amplify their media outreach and advocacy. Experts from Atma Connect have mentored a total of 40 staff members from 32 districts/cities. To this date, the writing class has produced 67 impact stories.

“We hope that the event can inspire and encourage Indonesia’s civil society activists,” said Hans Antlov, USAID MADANI Chief of Party. “After the event they can go home with new ideas, and through writing, help make governments more accountable and create a more inclusive and tolerant society.”

Atma Connect also marked today’s event as a celebration and venue to share stories of change from MADANI’s partner CSOs, civil society activists, and communities from all over Indonesia. In early November, Atma Connect and MADANI co-organized a writing competition with a focus on inspirational stories that showcase community-led development initiatives. The competition attracted 117 submissions from individuals located across the archipelago – from North Sumatra , South Sulawesi, to Nusa Tenggara Barat.

Atma Connect, an IT-based non profit organization for community development, has been , since 2014, creating AtmaGo (, a community-based platform with the tag of Neighbors Helping Neighbors. Since 2020, AtmaGo has also been the online platform for MADANI’s partner CSOs to sharpen their writing skills to support their advocacy work and contribute to countering disinformation, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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