Indonesian Press Council Releases Online Media Guidelines

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The Indonesian Press Council has released its “cyber media guidelines,” which were “officiated” Feb. 3, press council member Zulfiani Lubis told iMediaEthics by e-mail.

We wrote in December when the council finalized its ethics policy.  Lubis told iMediaEthics last month that the guidelines only pertain to online Indonesian media outlets that meet certain standards, such as “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.”

While the guidelines aren’t published in English online yet, Lubis sent iMediaEthics a copy.  Ultimately, they will be published on the press council’s website, she wrote. The “Cyber Media News Coverage Guidelines” define cybermedia as “any form of media that uses the Internet and doing journalistic activities, in accordance with the Press Law and the Standards for Press Companies established by the Press Council.”

Seven media groups agreed to the guidelines, according to Lubis’s e-mail to iMediaEthics. The groups are the Alliance of Independent Journalists, the Association of Indonesian Journalists, Association of Indonesian TV Journalists, Association of Indonesian Local Televsisions, Association of Indonesian Commercial Televisions, Indonesian Newspaper Publishers’ Association, and Association of Indonesian National Commercial Radios.

The guidelines call for “each be verified” unless the news is “of public urgency,” a source cannot be contacted, the news outlet discloses what has and hasn’t been verified, or if “The first source of news is clearly an identified, credible and competent source.”

Despite those exceptions, media outlets are still advised to “continue its efforts to verify the news” and report any updates.

The guidelines also advise on how to handle user-generated content, defined by the council as “any content created or published by users of cyber media, such as, articles, pictures, commentary, voice, video and uploaded forms which are attached to the cyber media, such as blogs, forums, reader’s or viewer’s comments, and other forms.”

With respect to user-generated content, the council noted online media outlets must have users “give a written approval” to not publish any “content of a lie, slander, and of sadistic and obscene nature,” any “content of prejudice and hatred” or any content that could “discriminate on the basis [of] gender and language.”  Online media outlets must also “provide a complaint mechanism” where users can complain about user-provided material.  Online media outlets also have ot be able to correct any user generated content.

Online media outlets must published with any “rectifications, corrections and/or the right to reply” the time at which those updates are added.  And, if an online media outlet “does not accommodate the right to reply,” the outlet can be fined a “maximum Rp500.000.000 (five hundred million rupiahs).” (Or, about $56,000.)

Online news outlets must also “clearly distinguish between news and advertisement.” For example, any “advertisement or paid content” has to be labeled as such.
Last month, Lubis told iMediaEthics that the council doesn’t intend to create guidelines for social media use because social media postings aren’t found to be “journalistic products”

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Indonesian Press Council Releases Online Media Guidelines

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