Screen shot of RepublikaOnline's post

Republika Prints Powerful Front Page Covered in 'Haze'


OCTOBER 08, 2015

Jakarta. The Jakarta-based newspaper Republika chose to 'haze' its cover on Thursday, making the front page articles almost illegible, in a powerful and metaphoric gesture to capture the attention of Indonesian readers, causing the image to go viral.

Many parts of Indonesia, including its capital city, remain completely unaffected by the haze crisis. This remains the case even though there are over 300,000 respiratory cases that have been recorded in Sumatra and Kalimantan, where the Pollutant Standards Index (PSI) has reached extremely hazardous levels of almost 2,000.

Neighboring Malaysia and Singapore have also been hit hard the by the haze.

In fact, globally, the haze crisis is on course to set a new precedent, with the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) saying it could become one of the worst on record.

In an effort to convey the difficulties endured by haze victims and the severity of the matter, the newspaper forced the grueling experience on its readers by using the clever design layout, which the newspaper’s editorial chief said was deliberately done to express sympathy to the victims of the haze crisis.

As a result, nonchalant citizens were forced to take notice and laud the newspaper for its creativity and boldness.

The barely legible headline on the front paper read "Student Victims of Haze Force to Go to School," and at the bottom of the page, a boy in a school uniform riding his bike while simultaneously covering his mouth was pictured. The powerful caption below the picture read "When covered with smoke, all the news becomes difficult to read."

“Today, Republika appears differently as a form of sympathy for the haze victims. We want to show our strong spirit [...] that this haze crisis [should] be handled more seriously,” the deputy to the chief editor of Republika, Irfan Junaidi, said on Thursday.

“This is just a small example of difficulties that victims of haze have to deal with. There are many other difficulties, of which some [result in] death,” said Irfan.

The image of the groundbreaking cover went viral with readers commenting on their website and the RepublikaOnline Facebook account saying, “that’s such a brilliant idea. [Initially,] my dad thought [there was] something  wrong with the printer [at the newspaper printing],” said Facebook user Putranda M. Rifky. Similarly, another Facebook user, Adhe Faisal, said he saluted the way the newspaper put a unique spin on the issue.

On Thursday, President Joko Widodo was forced to postpone his travel plans to Jambi for the third time due to decreasing visibility levels resulting from the thickening haze and deteriorating air conditions.