Rory Asyari on “Why It Matters,” How to Stay Positive During the Pandemic and More

In his second appearance on DA MAN, Rory Asyari talks with Riga Ramadhan about “Why It Matters,” how to stay positive during the pandemic and more.

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“Chasing what I know is true, there’s nothing that I would not do.” This line by musical group Oh The Larceny certainly fits Rory Asyari’s journey. I first met Metro TV’s news anchor and journalist last year for DA MAN’s 12th anniversary issue and found him to be a charismatic yet ambitious person. But, before we continue, a short recap perhaps is necessary. Rory Asyari knew from the beginning that he wanted to be a journalist. After graduating from Sebelas Maret University, he then obtained a Master’s degree in international political communication from the University of Sheffield in the U.K.

Our first interview then ended with a discussion about his proudest achievement so far. In particular, he mentioned that in a period of six months, he has been assigned to the United States four times. At the time, he did everything from interviewing Fethullah Gülen to covering Donald Trump’s presidential inauguration. Uniquely, the latter is still the one person that Asyari wishes to interview the most.

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“Even though this is one of the most hated persons on Earth, I’d like to really understand how he actually feels when he makes controversial policies that are against human values,” Asyari says, all while acknowledging that Trump will deny or turn the questions around. “That’s the challenge of interviewing a difficult person like him!” he added excitedly.

As for today, he’s still as ambitious as ever. Asyari still hosts Metro TV’s prime-time political debate program “Prime Talk,” discussing current affairs and politics. He still debates political moves, policies as well as the action and inaction of those in power on things that are central to the interest of the public. “What you see on the TV is just the 20 percent of my work. The remaining 80 percent is behind it. My team and I picked daily topics while providing reliable data and multiple points of view, creating a thorough comprehension of the topic discussed to our viewers,” explains Asyari.

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“As we all know, precision and reliability are central to journalism. Conducting deep research and preparing the right questions are my main duties prior to broadcasting. It’s safe to say that my team and I aspire to create impact through our program, holding policy makers accountable for their action or inaction, and aiming to become a reference for the public to gain trustworthy, objective news,” he further adds.

Still, despite trying his best to give objective news based on a comprehensive fact-checking process and so on, there are still many viewers out there who, unfortunately, chose to believe news outlets or websites which deliberately publish hoaxes and misleading information. At the end of the day, fake news continues to pop up across the Internet and gets shared on social media.

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“Watching the news can help you stay informed, but I still hope the viewers use their own critical thinking,” Asyari points out. “Put simply, if there’s a story that grabs your attention for any reason, if there’s story or content that’s too good to be true or vice versa, slow down and look closer. Once again, use your critical thinking. Even if you don’t trust a particular TV channel or news outlet, try to fact-check the story first. Is this a true story? Or a hoax?”

“I want to talk about topics that are uncomfortable to discuss because they are sensitive societal topics commonly avoided in open communication”

As our conversation came to an end, Asyari also talked about his projects outside the news channel during this pandemic. In particular, he shared about Sleep Project Indonesia, which provides high quality bedding at affordable prices. At the same time, he also channels his creativity through his YouTube account, which he says covers health and social issues. Speaking of the popular video-sharing platform, in a segment called “Why It Matters,” he opens discussions with topics such as “What would you do if your son or daughter is gay or lesbian,” “What if we choose not to get married” and “Hoax about HIV and AIDS.” In short, he tackles a lot of sensitive topics as well as ones that are taboo, particularly in Indonesia.

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“It’s very sad if live in democratic country but we chose to avoid talking about things that really matter,” Asyari excitedly opens. “Hence, in ‘Why It Matters,’ I want to talk about topics that are uncomfortable to discuss because they are sensitive societal topics commonly avoided in open communication. For instance, should women have a career and higher education? Some question why women should pursue higher education and a career if they’ll end up in the kitchen, taking care of their husbands? I believe that that these things should be discussed openly, and I’m happy to do that on my channel.”

On the other hand, when asked about the pandemic and how he stays positive during these tough times, Asyari replied, without hesitation: “I know that there are many negative sides, but I always try to see things from a positive angle. And I would encourage people to do this as well, because, if you think about it, there are a lot of positive things that we can achieve during this pandemic. We will overcome the crisis if we learn the lessons that will allow us to be more prepared and resilient when we have to face a new crisis in the future. This pandemic, eventually, will make us stronger than ever.”

If anything, that certainly sounds like a man on a mission.

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