Media in Indonesia: Forum for political change and critical assessment
This paper reviews the struggle for freedom of the press in Indonesia from the colonial period until 2006. First, the paper examines press initiatives and restraints placed on these during the colonial period, followed by those during the period of Sukarno. Then, the paper questions Suharto's efforts to censor the press during his presidency drawing on the author's personal experiences working as a journalist in Jakarta during this period. More recent governmental changes are then analysed with regards to the press and questions raised regarding how far this emancipation has enabled journalists and the mass media – especially the popular press – to live up to what some argue is their responsibility, to serve as a forum for political change and critical assessment. The paper questions if newspapers in Indonesia have been successful in reaching in practice, their mottos of implementing press freedom, and it debates whether announcing that one is ‘working on the people's behalf’ is the same as maintaining ‘press freedom’. I conclude with case studies that raise questions regarding whether, in the present political climate, a newspaper can really be free from government interference in Indonesia.