The Washington Post article with a photo of Indonesian Defense Minister Ryamizard Ryacudu incorrectly identified as President Joko Widodo. (Photo courtesy of Twitter user @danrem)

No Harm, No Foul in WashPo’s Mistaken Jokowi Caption, Jakarta Says


OCTOBER 28, 2015

Jakarta. The Indonesian government has played down the Washington Post’s mistaken labeling of Indonesian Defense Minister Ryamizard Ryacudu as President Joko Widodo in a photo caption.

The award-winning newspaper ran a story of Joko’s visit to the United States in its Tuesday edition, but used a photo of Ryamizard and US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter, with the caption “Indonesian President Joko Widodo salutes a color guard at the Pentagon on Monday.”

A Twitter user, @danrem, pointed it out to the paper, which responded that it would submit a print correction for the next day’s edition.

“This is just a simple editing mistake,” Pramono Anung, the Indonesian state secretary, told reporters in Jakarta on Friday. “I’m sure whoever put up that photo feels bad about having put in the wrong [caption] and is now being talked about everywhere. But we’ve received clarification that they received the photo from Getty images.”

The Jakarta Globe subscribes to the same image service, via Agence France-Presse, and also received the photos identifying Ryamizard as Joko.

Pramono joked that there was an upside to the case of mistaken identity, saying “At least now the defense minister will be better known.”

Indonesian media outlets and Internet users were not as forgiving, though. Twitter user @Tusillow called it “a very big mistake” for a newspaper of the Washington Post’s caliber and demanded a “deep sincere […] apology” and a correction. Meanwhile, commenters on the news site called the mistake “an insult” and “yet another attempt [by the US] to sow discontent.”

Others pointed out that this was the second time in as many weeks that someone other than Joko was referred to as Indonesia’s president. At a speaking engagement in South Korea last week, organizers hung up a banner welcoming “President Megawati Soekarnoputri,” Indonesia’s president from 2001 to 2004 and Joko’s political patron.

“Maybe Jokowi needs to improve his language/body language,” wrote a user on the popular online forum Kaskus, suggesting that Joko did not have the look of a statesman. “And stop grinning so much.”