A Medium to Express Concerns, Eight Students of UMY Establish ‘Tokoh Utama’

Social and environmental issues are only discussed when they possess ‘sexy’ contents. After a while, those issues lose their appeals and will no longer be reported by the news coverage. The reality tends to be a pattern in commercial mainstream media nowadays in Indonesia. On the other hand, social and environmental issues are constant phenomena happening as long as human civilization continues to evolve. Hence, the issues should be vocalized to construct people’s consciousness so that people can find solutions to overcome the problems. This idea underlies the intention of Tokoh Utama, a community and medium whose mission is to become a funnel to respond social and environmental issues.

Tokoh Utama was formed in Yogyakarta on 22 November 2018, initiated by eight students from various departments of Universitas Muhammadiyah Yogyakarta (UMY).

Iqbal Assayuqi, a Project Leader of Tokoh Utama, stated that the medium is a means to break in a current journalism pattern. “Tokoh Utama is formed with an expectation to be an alternative medium, particularly in social and environmental aspects. We wish to break through news segmentation sometimes grouping viral issues as news materials for public. Tokoh Utama becomes a medium to express issues we think important,” detailed Iqbal.

“Writing helps us to express what we feel. Hereinafter, we will create a different medium such as visual-audio to deliver a phenomenon happening in society. Moreover, we also want to operate as a community, accommodating people who possess the same concern through actions. Tokoh Utama is our means to commit concrete actions so that later it will be helpful for people to respond issues near them,” informed Iqbal.

Sulhi Azhari, a Creative Director of Tokoh Utama, informed that Tokoh Utama uses a digital platform as the medium of publication. “Focusing on social media, we target young generations who engage in a virtual space. Through this medium, hopefully the issues can reach those who share the same concerns. We want this to become bait for people to express what they feel, or in some cases, experience as victims,” explained Sulhi.


Becoming a community is a means of Tokoh Utama to wheedle people into expressing their concerns in social and environmental issues. Through a program called “Mercusuar” (a lighthouse), Tokoh Utama aspires to embrace people possessing the same concerns. For instance, on Sunday (17/2), the community conducted an event titled “Memahami Kesunyian” (Understanding Silence) at Warung Apresiasi Lumbini, Mergangsan. The event was a respond to deficient medical services for people with disability.

Collaborating with Deaf Art Community and Warung Kopi Sendu, the event engaged medical personnel to socialize a sign language as a part of health services. This aimed to make medical personnel improve efficiency and interpersonal communication with deaf patients. The event consisted of a socialization and practical session for participants to communicate directly to deaf people, righteously as doctors and patients. The event was also addressed to transmit the idea about significance of actions and solutions to overcome environmental and social issues nearby.

Additionally, Tokoh Utama consists of eight students of UMY, namely M. Iqbal Assyauqi, Sulhi Azhari, Kenty Larasati as Community Relations, Yusuf Harfi as Editor in Chief, Meuthia Maharani as Editorial Staff, Fathan Jauhar Mushofa as Graphic Designer, and Armani Billardhi and Ricki Putra Harahap as Researchers.

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