Educating Indonesian Journalists on Issues of Privacy, Violence a Focus for Press Council

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We wrote last week about the call for Indonesian journalists to follow journalism ethics guidelines when reporting on sex crimes and sex abuse cases.  During the discussion on sex crime reporting, a member of Indonesia’s Press Council, Zulfiani Lubis, noted that the council had received “an increasing number of complaints on privacy violations” in 2011.   We wrote to Lubis asking for more information about the press council’s role in the discussion and the press council’s ethics code.

Lubis told iMediaEthics by e-mail that the council’s code of ethics specifically addresses sex crime reporting. The fifth article of the code reads:  “The Indonesian journalist does not disclose and broadcast the identity of victims of a sexually-exploitative crime and refrains from identifying a minor who committed a criminal act.”  Lubis added:

“In the last 2 years, Press Council focus on training journalists, especially in the area: covering sexual crimes, privacy violations, violence exploitation, conflict and disaster. The issue of how the media should cover sexual crimes even become more important recently. Only yesterday, I was representing Press Council in a discussion about this topic, hold by Indonesia Women Protection National Commission and Indonesia Journalists Alliance.”

According to the U.S. State Department, Indonesia is “the world’s fourth-most populous nation.”

Lubis told us that the press council is an “independent body” and that its ethics code was “validated” in 2006.  She sent us a copy of the code in English.  The code calls for journalists to report stories that are “accurate, balanced and without malice,” to respect privacy, to fact-check, and to identify themselves as journalists. Journalists are prohibited from bribery, discrimination and plagiarism and advised to separate news from opinion.  Indonesian journalists are also given “the right of refusal to protect the identity” of anonymous sources and embargoed information.

Concerning corrections and errors, the ethics code reads: “The Indonesian journalist immediately retracts, rectifies, and corrects errors and inaccuracies in a news story accompanied with an apology to readers, listeners or viewers.”

According to the ethics code, the Press Council has “final judgment for any breach of the journalism code of ethics.”

Lubis noted she is the only woman of the nine press council commissioners and often travels for workshops, seminars and training programs.  Her role in the press council puts her in charge of “journalist training, education and profession development.”

According to this 2010 UNESCO report, Indonesia’s first press council was created in 1968 and this current form of the press council, as a “new, first independent press council.”

We also asked Lubis about the new online ethics guidance that the council has been working on. We wrote in late December when the council finalized its new code.

According to Lubis, the new guidance only applies to media published online – not social media – and the council plans “to officiate this guideline” Jan. 26.  She added that the council “will not” create any guidelines for social media and networking because social media isn’t considered “journalistic products.” (As Lubis explained, social media postings do have “some of the process of journalistic work” but isn’t defined as journalism.)

The online media guidance also only applies to media outlets defined as a “media company,” according to Lubis.  To fit the “media company standard,” which the council created in 2008, media outlets have to meet certain requirements like “minimum capital seeds, must give protection to the journalists, must give training code of ethics for the journalists, publish their management (included person responsible for all content/usually chief editor), address, formation of company based company law, etc,” Lubis wrote.

The draft standards won’t be available in English until after the council makes them official, according to Lubis.


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Educating Indonesian Journalists on Issues of Privacy, Violence a Focus for Press Council

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