Political TV Talk Show for Young People in the Disruptive Era


The problem of young people ignorance toward politics become talks of the day, as the election comes nearer, such as the case of Bandung City, the capital city of West Java Province during the local election for Mayor of the city in 2018. Of 1.650.333 voters, 330.066 or 20% are first-time voters. Due to their considerable proportions, it is believed they played important role in the local election. The promising potential of young people in the biggest local politics of West Java Province become the concern of two most popular political talk shows in Indonesia, Rosi broadcasted by Kompas TV and Mata Najwa of Metro TV. Both TV programs were expected to share the value of information and to inspire young people to participate in the election. In the disruptive era, television particularly during election is still a powerful tool and remained prominent among public. A critical textual analysis toward both programs shows similar points in the way each program addresses youths as their target of the campaign. The research also revealed that there are different approaches used by each talk show to engage with young people as potential voters for the local election in Bandung City, West Java Province, Indonesia. The abstract should be presented as a single paragraph and briefly summarize the goals, methods, and new results presented in the manuscript. Reference citations are not allowed.

Keywords: Talk show, television, first time voters, political engagement, local election


Approaching the election, political TV talk show is gaining more popularity, and attracting people particularly when significant issue is brought to the studio. Such is the case of West Java Province. The local election in West Java Province gained national spotlight due to some facts. First, as the most populated province in the country, it holds the biggest number of voters for the election process. Second, 30 percent of the voters are young people, among them are first time voters. Their participation in local election could influence the result of the local election.

The potential of young people, particularly first-time voters in the election became the attention of electoral institutions, which organize special programs and roadshow in schools and universities, working in collaboration with other communities or organizations to do public education for increasing the participation of young people in the voting. Political parties and election candidates team exaggerating their effort and design particular campaign to attract young people. Mass media, including television whose audiences are still the biggest among other medium, also joined the effort by producing program targeted young audiences.

Meanwhile, during campaign period, each candidate appeared on TV as part of the news, pieces of interviews, feature and documentary, also talk show. Despite a number of TV talk show aired in the country, only a few are able to invite all candidates on stage. Mata Najwa of TV 7, and Rosi of Kompas TV have successfully brought all candidates on screen in a special edition targeted to young people in February and April 2018. Through the talk show, candidates were not only promoting themselves to young people. The hosts also examined candidate’s concern for youth problems and discussed the strategy to approach young people, especially the first-time voters.

Disruptive era brings various changes in mass media program, including talk show. Once uploaded in the online media, the talk show enjoyed a long running period on air. People can easily access the program, although it had been broadcasted in the past. This also prolonged the program existence. People still can discuss and engage with the program and visit it again for several reasons. The talk show itself managed to reach young people as digital native, which is none other than the by product of disruptive era. Disruptive era also beget changes on political participation. Sparked by online and social media, political participation had been exercised intensively. Scholars argue that online political participation enhances democracy as well (Anggraheni et al., 2021). It is important to contextualized the message and its properties within the milieu.

This research aimed to focus on how each talk show has framed and constructed the issue of young people participation in the local election. To decide whether the talk show has successfully formulated and delivered the key messages of the issue within relevant context, the research will examine the contents, structure, and style of each talk show. By examining those aspects, the research will able to analyse young people political participation as perceived and conceptualized by TV and election candidates.

Problem Statement

Mass media serve as non-traditional sources for young people to learn about politics. It ranged from soft news to a spectrum of talk show performing debates, public campaign, electoral hearing, panel discussion, etc. (Kwak, 2004; Zaheer, 2014). There are studies that exploring the relationship between political talk show with political knowledge, political efficacy, and political participation among young people (Akhrani et al., 2018). Numerous studies in Indonesia also has been dedicated to examine how Mata Najwa and Rosi play some political and educational role among young people based on quantitative approach (Hariyadi et al., 2018). Our research focuses on the internal factors of the presentation as displayed in the talk show. Situated within disruptive context, several aspects play significant role in producing the program to accommodate recent transformation (Romadlono & Indainanto, 2020; Setyaningsih, 2020; Wilding et al., 2018). An examination on how each talk show has framed and addressed young people role in the election and materialize it in their program will produce a complete analysis on TV talk show contribution in the issue of local election.

Research Questions

3.1. What are the contents and structure of political TV talk show in Indonesia to engage young people in the local election?

3.2. How did political TV talk show in Indonesia framed and discussed the issue of young people participation in the election in disruptive era?

Purpose of the Study

This study aimed to examine the content and the structure of political TV talk shows in order to engage young people in the local election of West Java Province in Indonesia. Also, the study seeks to explain how TV political talk show has framed the issue of young people participation in local election in West Java Province in Indonesia and contextualized it within disruptive era.

Research Methods

The research employs a critical textual analysis aimed to explore interrelationship between institution, text, audience, and cultural context (Burton, 2000). To explore the intrinsic aspects of the talk show, five aspects of textual analysis in television studies are utilized, i.e. contents, structure, absence, style and mode of address (Brennen, 2013). The norms and values of young people is reflected in the mode of address. In TV studies, mode of address is echoing the viewers and personality on the program, therefore, constructing the audience (Burton, 2000).

The talk shows program being studied are (1) Mata Najwa: Panggung Jabar (April 14th, 2018), 2 hours 21 minutes and (2) Rosi: Kandidat Gubernur Jabar (April 14th, 2018), 2 hours 21 minutes. Each program is transcripted and coded according to the intrinsic aspects of texts. In the next phase, analysis was carried out based on the coding data which serves as ‘raw data’.


Talk shows are programs which provide both talk and entertainment for the audience or, what amounts to the same thing, entertainment through talk (Gregori-Signes, 2000, as cited in Placencia & Rodriguez, 2013). It ranged from a supplement of news interview, to a single program hosted by a moderator which featured different guests in each period. Talk show essential elements are consisted of a host/moderator, guests, and audience. Taken together, they create a form of togetherness (Bruun, 2014). It is the interactivity which marked the special characteristic of talk show. Other qualities of talk show are performativity, and liveliness (Tolson, 2006).

Involving viewers in media programming has become important consideration of production to attract viewers. Digital technology has allowed greater degree of involvement through the extension of choice and personalized content selection (Higgins, 2008). Digital technology also provides layers of information channel. Once the program is released through social media, the conversations in the talk show keep ongoing ceaselessly. This enhance the quality of interactivity and engagement.

Various types of TV talk show have been developed over time. Based on the on-air time, there are daytime talk show vs. evening talk show (Richardson & Meinhoff, 1998, as cited in Placencia & Rodriguez, 2013). Daytime talk show features ‘ordinary’ or lay people who share their experiences and discussing their views. Evening talk invites celebrity, politicians, or other prominent member in the society. Based on the issue, Carbaugh makes distinction among issue-based talk show and personality-centered talk show (Mustikaningtyas et al., 2019). Regarding the interactional format, there are audience discussion debates, referred to by some as audience participation debates and talk shows based on the interview format which limiting the audience participation. However, the differences of each type are not really clear cut. In many instances, it blurred. To be creatively attract audience as much as possible, talk show often mixing and borrowing elements of other talk show type, and produced a unique combination.

Talk show are also very cultural. American talk show, for example, often exploiting personal side of the guest mercilessly. For community from the other side of the world, American talk show ‘looks messy’, a product of hybridized thousands talk shows aired nationally and locally (Munson, 1993, as cited in Placencia & Rodriguez, 2013). British talk show, on the contrary, set a high standard moral value, where everything will be judged by certain maxims (Burton, 2000). In Ecuador and other Latin America regions, the most popular talk show labelled as ‘confrontainment’ and ‘confrontalk’ sells conflicts to attract audience. This kind of talk show is exploiting the expression of negative emotions like anger or contempt in the form of face attacks or shouting. The ‘confrontalk’ is purposefully designed to humiliate the participants in front of audience (Culpeper, 2005, as cited in Placencia & Rodriguez, 2013). This kind of talk show won’t exist in authoritative country like North Korea.

One notable characteristic of talk show lies in its ability to gather people to discuss a topic. Hence, talk show is a platform of discussion which mediating various interests about a topic or an issue. Due to this ability, talk show is dubbed as an example of televisual public sphere by deliver a new kind of public forum that allows a diversity of voices to be heard (Tolson, 2006).

In highlighting its role as a public forum, talk show act as a cultural and political forum that circulates conversations as a particular strength. ‘The talk show can be seen as a terrain of struggles of discursive practices through its discursive format and by making the news more comprehensible and interesting, talk shows increase the potential of “rational-critical” debate’ (Jones, 2008 as cited in Placencia & Rodriguez, 2013). However, it is important to differentiate talk show with political debate officially organized by the electoral institutions. Though the general format is similar –host/moderator, audience, and candidates—those who control the event is dissimilar. Leaders debate both in national or regional scope is a part of election system. Hence, the control lies in the hands of electoral committee, even though since 2000 televised leaders debate become common everywhere (Kaid, 2014). Meanwhile, political TV talk show is produced by the media. The process is supervised by a program producer supported by a professional team. Its purpose is earning viewership and drawing streaming of revenue as much as possible, while maintaining the quality standard of the program.

Mata Najwa whose name of the program is originated from the talk show host Najwa Shihab, has been broadcasting since 2009. At first, the program was produced by Metro TV. In 2017, it moved to Trans 7 TV Station that belong to TransCorp. Throughout the years, Mata Najwa has undergone some innovations. One of its innovation is making the talk show as a mobile event. Mata Najwa Roadshow has travelled to various campus in many cities, be broadcasted from public places such as town halls, university halls, even malls.

Rosi is a talk show program hosted by Rosiana Silalahi, a former journalist and news anchor belong to SCTV TV Station. After 15 years serves in SCTV, Rosiana left the station and joined Kompas TV, overseeing the TV news room as Editor in Chief. In this period, Rosi talk show was produced. The talk show aimed to open up a forum to discuss various issues, ranging from social, politics, culture by featuring guests from various background and professions, such as politicians, academicians, ministers, local leaders, even college students, as long as they can provide ‘unique’ viewpoints. Both talk show and the host also win several awards for best talk show program and hosts (Rohim, 2018).

Disruption era offers many advantages to mass media, pertained to digital platform. Digitalization helped both talk shows to reach audience beyond. Distributed on digital platform like YouTube, both programs are still circulated among public and engage them in public discussion through chat. Until recently, this episode of Mata Najwa are gaining more than 450.000 views. Meanwhile, Rosi gains more than 160.000 views. The engagement rate of each program scored the highest among similar programs which discuss same topic.

For both talk shows, electoral moments in national scope or local scope beget news value. So does personalities involved in the process, including the candidates in the election. Welcoming the local election in West Java Province, which is the biggest one in the country, both talk shows produced a special edition which showcased all candidates on the stage. Recognizing the significant contribution of young voters in the local election, Mata Najwa and Rosi wrapped the episode by refer to the youth as important aspect on the election. Each candidate is invited to the event not only to share their mission and program, but also to share their concern toward youth issues. They asked to reveal the strategy targeted millennials or to involve in the course of actions in order to build engagement with young people, particularly first-time voters. The following section discuss how each talk show wrapped this issue and delivered the key messages to the audience.

Intrinsic Aspects: Vocabulary, Characterization, and Elements of Conflict

According to Cormac, elements of text are consisted of content, structure, style and absence. Analysing content means identify opinions, beliefs, values, and other judgments, the vocabulary used, the stereotypes and characterizations of people, along with the conflict resolutions and other actions within the text. Both talk shows being studied share similar concerns on young people participation in the election. Likewise, the core opinion and beliefs are similar. The talk shows build the core opinion on the potential of young people in the election. They believe that young people as voters can make a difference. Citing the data published by Province Electoral Commission, millennials are 30% of total registered voters. With such turnout, millennials can shape the final result of the election. Moreover, if they know how strategical their positions are, millennials may push their own agenda, or at least act as a pressure force to the ruling administration. The importance of young people participation in the election suggest the core value of democracy: equality, participation, and emancipation. People voice articulated in the voter turnout is the foundation of democratic value. Good governance is established through citizen participation, regardless their gender, age, seniority, and social status. Democracy assumes equality among citizens, including young people. Participating in local election is an example of exercising the rights and responsibilities of young people as citizen.

However, engaging young people is a huge task. Among young people, there’s a growing apathy and disinterested on political affairs, due to scandals and corruption, bad role model, conflicts over political party, dispute among party members, incivility in social media, etc. One needs particular strategy to engage young people in the election or other political life. Within these assumptions, both talk show then repackaging their program not only to bring candidates on stage, but also to attract young people. How are they materialize it will mark a difference, since both talk shows have their own creative and production team. As shown on the Table 1, the differences are seen in the vocabulary used, how each stereotyped and characterized young people, which led to different conflict resolutions embedded in the conversation.

Table 1 - Intrinsic Aspects of Talk Shows
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Both talk show touched the subject of young people as target of audience, but the way each talk show addressing young people is dissimilar. Rosi -the host- stated that her talk show should be delivered in a more relaxing manner, since ‘we talk with young people’. In the next segment, she asked each participant to define the characteristic of young people. Interestingly, of the 3 candidates in the studio, only one candidate who describe young people as ‘digital native’ and embrace their uniqueness. The other candidate delivered mixed explanations. The answer of candidate 4 implied their perception of youth from elderly viewpoint: that young people is immature, need counsel and guidance from the elderly. In minutes 55 of the show, he even addressed young people as ‘my children’. Young people is idealistic, but they need more character building. The last candidate, no 4, didn’t really clear in defining the characteristic of young people, but stressed out that the program is ‘too serious’. This indicate how, according to candidate no 4, young people don’t like something too serious.

Najwa took different turn. Since the beginning of the program, Najwa has positioned young people as the main guest of the talk show. The program itself held in a university hall, invited hundreds of student college as audience. The talk show which used to produce in the studio, become a live theater. Here, young people as audience or target of program is not illusionary or just a symbol of commodity. It is real. The questions about who’s young people is, and what’s their characteristics are don’t necessary anymore. Nevertheless, one might deduce certain characteristic of young people based on the trait and gesture of audience: fun, easy going, don’t like politics, love jokes. Yet, they are also smart and creative. These qualities appear in the videoclip featuring youths who articulating hopes, identifying problems, even pose a challenge for each candidate.

The concept and idea of who’s young people are, what are their concern, and how to attract them to participate in local election, is further implemented in the structure of the talk show.

Structuring the Talk Shows

Structure comprises of opening, body, and closing. As the skeleton of a program, structure is essentially a concrete form of ideas which is materialized based on the frame provided by talk show producer. An investigation on how each talk show has structured the program to offer their ideas will reveal the ways each talk show conceptualized the problem, portraying the actors or stakeholders involved, and offer the solution.

Since the beginning, both talk shows have declared the importance role of young people in the local election. Also, both expressed concern with the lack of young people initiative to participate in the local election. Hence, it became the mission of the talk shows to convince the young people to vote. To achieve this mission, both talk shows challenged the candidates to perform themselves to young people across segments of discussions and acts. All performances had been planned through segments which structured the talk show during broadcasted.

Table 2 - Structure of Talk Show
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The opening served as a vital point to frame the whole presentation. It was achieved through problem statement which delivers the importance role of young people, the lacking initiative from young people to participate in local election, and the reason of putting the candidates on the show. By introducing the candidates, both talk show hosts then reiterated that young people are the cause of today’s edition. Therefore, candidates were asked to be less formally than usual. “Relax” and “casual way conversation” are terms often uttered by hosts to change the atmosphere of the talk show.

After the opening, segments of discussion are started to roll up. In the first segment, both hosts tried to attract the audience by putting something ‘controversial’. Begin in this point, the talk show developed different approach. Najwa Shihab, the host of Mata Najwa, invited each candidate to do 3 minutes of stand-up comedy in front of large audience. Meanwhile, in the next talk show, Rosi exposed the latest poll result regarding public impression to each, and asked them to respond. It was expected that through the stand-up comedy, and through respond to latest poll result, each candidate concealed themselves publicly to the young people.

The stand-up comedy worked well. During this segment, participants greeted the audience by informal approach. The laughter which comes naturally from the audience indicated that the jokes and puns delivered by each candidate was acceptable. It eased the atmosphere and created a kind of ‘light, easy, and entertaining’ ambience among all participants. Such is not the case of Rosi talk show which delivered pieces of poll as an intro for the segments. Rosi exposed poll result about what people don’t like toward each candidate and asked the candidate to respond. For example, according to the survey carried out by Indo Barometer, candidate no. 3 is ‘unpopular’, ‘elitist’ and ‘indecisive’ (min 16’30” – 17’). Sudrajat acknowledged the fact, and his partner, Syaikhu, added their plan to solve the result. Meanwhile, instead of giving similar reaction, candidate no 4 responded by problematizing the validity of the poll. They expressed that whatever the result is, they don’t have any problem with that. The concern is regarding the poll bureau and the time period when the poll is taken. The ambience of the conversation, though still featuring smiles and chit-chat, become intense. It seemed that for candidate no 4, the segment become a kind of personal attack.

From introduction segment, the talk shows then progressed to main themes where each candidate was asked to discuss issues pertained with young people. Unemployment issue was addressed by both talk shows, followed by economic plan to resolve the problem offered by each candidate. The talk shows again make a difference in the course of theme. As can be seen in Table 2, Mata Najwa was focusing on issues which are directly related with young people, such as population boom, substitute teacher, and the cost of political candidacy often led to corruption. While young people seemed disinterested with political activity, they expressed concern with corruption issues. For young people, corruption as a form of power abuse affected their political trust on government and politicians. This situation, coupled with other sociocultural variables, resulted in apathy and lack of political participation (Sihombing, 2019; Zulfa et al., 2019).

Rosi talk show developed its content to discuss poverty and campaign issues. The first issue is more general issue, not specifically young people’s concern. Meanwhile, campaign issues discussed by each team as strategy to approach young people and win their heart. This is more about candidate’s issues, not for the sake of young people.

The challenge segment further indicated how each talk show framed their program as ‘dedicated to young people’. In this segment, each candidate was asked to perform some actions, or explain ‘the other side’ of their personality to attract the audience. In Mata Najwa, the challenges were articulated by young people themselves in a series of videoclips displayed at the segment. Meanwhile, in Rosi, the challenges came in a black box distributed to each candidate, containing a piece of item which symbolizes something personal in their life. It could be food, souvenirs, old photo, and something like that. Using the item, each candidate revealed their stories, and by that way, a sense of intimacy and familiarity is expected. The expectation was fulfilled. There’s a sense of intimacy appear, and was fully exploited particularly by candidate 4 by making comments, moving gestures, and teasing another candidate as well. However, the intimacy was developed only in the circle of those who appear on stage, not involving the audience or young people that had been targeted for the main audience of the program. Each item of the structure reveals how they deal with young people as their main concern.

Interactivity in a talk show program is constructed between host, guests, and audience. The hosts play multiple roles: first, “educating” the public about the details, intrigues, and nuisances. of a topic; second, “engaging” in discussion among themselves and call-in viewers to arouse public attention; and, last, “entertaining” viewers with witty quips to soften the hard and dry facts (Lee, 2011). Both Najwa Shihab and Rosiana Silalahi are high quality hosts with amazing performance. They won several awards and had been recognized as best talk show hosts. In the edition of talk show being examined, they are successfully fulfilled their role. However, the interaction pattern that involved each host with their audience is different. By tailoring the youths in the talk show, Mata Najwa program has created a triangle of interaction between host, guests, and audiences. Meanwhile, the existence of youth in Rosi aren’t materialized, since this edition only engaging hosts and candidates of local election as guests. It is not because of physical factor. Since the beginning, the structure and content of Rosi has put the youth as object or topic only, not as an active participant whose voices are articulated in the program, Hence, the pattern of interaction formed are a reciprocal linear straight line.

Talk show is about people and conversation among people constructed painfully by the scenographer in the studio (Agger & Jensen, 2001). The way conflicts revealed and resolved are exposed in the conversation between the host and guests. It is interesting to see that guests in Mata Najwa responding the problem of youth as articulated by the young people themselves. Meanwhile, with the absence of youth in the program, the guests in Rosi talk show discussed the problem of youth as perceived by the guests. There’s a shifting problem of youth in Rosi. Instead of discussing what’s consider as problems by youth, the guests or the candidates problematizes youth itself as a problem to be solved. This finding explains another important aspect of textual analysis, i.e. identifying the absence.

Absence is the elements which might have been expected to be in the text but which are missing from it (Cormack, 1988, as cited in Bruun, 2014). Considering those aspects that are absent, unsaid, missing or avoided, allow us to consider how a specific argument may have been constructed. The talk shows are about young people political participation in local politics. Hence, the main actors here should be the young people as main audience. The talk shows being investigated shows differences in treating young people in the program.

Since the beginning, Mata Najwa has involved young people as the main audience, not only by performing in a university hall among large crowd, but also articulating the voice of young people. The strong presence of youth voice could be recognized from the beginning. It is young people who articulating the problem, posing the challenge, and signing a political contract on stage. The host moderated the discussion, managing the flow, tossing ideas, and sharpening some arguments. The closing is a climax: it culminated between candidates of local election and representatives of young people who appeared on stage signing political contract. This political contract has placed young people as equal as the candidates of local election. Mata Najwa has completely achieved its mission to engage young people on local politics, and making them as the important actor of the event.

Such is not the case of Rosi. Though the mission is similar, and had been stated since the beginning, all program is about the candidates. The main star of the problem is the guest whereas young people is merely expected audience. There’s effort to discuss young people issues. But the whole discussion, at the end, is about how each candidate dealt with young people issues. To some extent, young people even become the problem itself, as explained by a candidate who mentioning ‘lack of certain trait’ and therefore ‘need character building.’ To accomplish the analysis, the absence of young people is clearly noticeable in Rosi talk show.

In dealing with the target audience, it is important to put the perspective of the audience at the first place. This is not only a matter of effective communication strategy, but also to honouring their presence. To be able to do this, talk show usually employs some strategies. Interpreting the topic to the audience lifeworld is what Venuti (1998) (as cited in Bruun, 2014) calls domestication. Basically, domestication refers to the translation strategy of making the text familiar to the target readership by minimizing the strangeness of a ‘foreign’ text or something that beyond audience grasp. Mata Najwa has the qualities of domestication the text by consigning young people in the show and tailoring their presence in every segment. On the contrary, by discussing young people issues by adult or older people, Rosi talk show has exercised foreignization of the text. Instead of encouraging the target to participate, the talk show could potentially lead to a backfire effect, in which the main target audience declared in the first minutes is overlooked.


Based on these findings, it could be concluded that both talk show has constructed different frames in discussing and engaging young people in local election. By positioning young people as main actor, not merely targeted audience, Mata Najwa talk show has framed young people as true potential voters who are able to participate in political activities. Mata Najwa made sure that the voice of young people had been articulated by themselves. The talk show become a forum where every concern is articulated, and be answered. The key messages about the role of young people in local election had been delivered through the structure and performance each participants of the talk show. All elements of the talk show indicate the strong presence of young people. To be concluded, ‘Young people as agent of change in local election’ is the frame constructed by Mata Najwa Talk Show.

Meanwhile, Rosi talk show discussing the topic within themselves. Young people issues become the content, but it is structured is such a way that limiting, even diminishing the existence of young people. The issue of young people was articulated by the candidates and the host. Therefore, the topic of young people engagement in local election is framed as perceived and believed only by those people, not involving the young people. The disappearance of young people in the topic of talk show is obvious and clearly marked the absence of their existence. Likewise, the key message is somewhat lost and altered to ‘the problem of young people to engage in local election.’ Based on this finding, the frame provided by Rosi Talk Show in discussing young people participation in local election is not really engaging them as active agent. Here, the frame is “Young people as participant of local election”.


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Communication, Media, Disruptive Era, Digital Era, Media Technology 

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Indra Astuti, S., & Abdul Wahab, J. (2022). Political TV Talk Show for Young People in the Disruptive Era. In J. A. Wahab, H. Mustafa, & N. Ismail (Eds.), Rethinking Communication and Media Studies in the Disruptive Era, vol 123. European Proceedings of Social and Behavioural Sciences (pp. 483-494). European Publisher. https://doi.org/10.15405/epsbs.2022.01.02.40