Freedom of opinion, expression, and the press are human rights protected under the Pancasila, the 1945 Constitution, and the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Freedom of the press is a public means to obtain information and to communicate for the purpose to meet a basic need and enhance the quality of human life. In instituting press freedom, the Indonesian journalist is also mindful of the nation’s interest, his/her social responsibility, society’s diversity, and religious norms.
In executing its functions, rights, obligations and role, the press respects the basic rights of every person, and as such the press is called upon to be professional and open to public scrutiny.
To ensure press freedom and to meet the public right to obtain correct information, the Indonesian journalist requires a moral foundation and professional ethics as guidance for securing the public trust and upholding integrity and professionalism. On this basis the journalists of Indonesia establish and adhere to the Journalism Code of Ethics.
The Indonesian journalist is independent and produces news stories that are accurate, balanced and without malice.
a. Independent means reporting events or facts in line with one’s conscience without interference, coercion and intervention from other parties including the owners of the press enterprise.
b. Accurate means it is believed to be true consistent with the event that occurred.
c. Balanced means all parties get equal treatment.
d. Without malice means without intentionally and solely to abuse others.
The Indonesian journalist adheres to professional methods in the execution of a journalistic assignment
Professional methods are
a. identifying oneself to the news source;
b. respect a person’s right to privacy;
c. no bribing;
d. producing a factual news story with clear news sources;
e. the taking and mounting of or the broadcasting of pictures, photos, and sound is furnished with information about the source and presented in a balanced way;
f. respect the traumatic experience of a news source in presenting pictures, photos, sound;
g. refrain from plagiarism, including the stating of another journalist’s work as his/her own;
h. the use of certain methods can be contemplated in investigative reporting for the public interest.
The Indonesian journalist always verifies information, conducts balanced reporting, does not mix facts with biased opinion, and upholds the presumption of innocence principle.
a. Verifying information means conducting a check and recheck on the truth of the information concerned.
b. Balanced means providing proportional news space and time for every individual party.
c. Biased opinion is a journalist’s personal opinion. This is distinct from interpretive opinion, which is the journalist’s interpretation of the facts.
d. Presumption of innocence is the principle of refraining from passing judgment on someone.
The Indonesian journalist refrains from producing false, slanderous, sadistic and obscene news stories
a. False means something that the journalist has previously known as not in line with the facts at hand.
b. Slanderous means a baseless accusation made on purpose with malicious intent.
c. Sadistic means cruel and without compassion.
d. Obscene means a description of erotic behavior with photos, pictures, sound, graphics or writing solely to titillate.
e. In broadcasting archival pictures and sound, the journalist indicates the time the pictures and sound were recorded.
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.
a. Identity is all data and information concerning a person that would make it easy for others to trace.
b. A minor is a person under 16 years of age and is not yet married.
The Indonesian journalist does not misuse his/her profession and accepts no bribe.
a. Misusing his/her profession means all acts for personal gain using information obtained on assignment prior to such information becoming public knowledge.
b. Bribes are all gratuities in the form of money, articles or facilities from others that affect the journalist’s independence.
The Indonesian journalist has the right of refusal to protect the identity of a news source who does not wish his/her identity and whereabouts to be known, and abides by the conditions for an embargo, background and off the record information as mutually agreed.
a. The right of refusal is the right not to disclose the identity and the whereabouts of a news source for the sake of the security of the news source and his/her family.
b. Embargo is delay in publishing or broadcasting the news as requested by the news source.
c. Background information is all information or data from a news source that is published or broadcast without identifying the news source.
d. Off the record information is all information or data from a news source that may not be published or broadcast.
The Indonesian journalist does not write or report news based on prejudice or discrimination against anyone on the basis of differences in ethnicity, race, color, religion, gender, and language and does not degrade the dignity of the weak, the poor, the sick, the mentally or physically disabled.
a. Prejudice is negative presumption of something prior to clearly knowing about it.
b. Discrimination is differentiation in treatment.
The Indonesian journalist respects the right of the news source’s private life except in the public interest.
a. Respecting the right of the news source constitutes an attitude of tolerance and caution.
b. Private life pertains to all matters of life of an individual and his or her family other than what is linked with the public interest.
The Indonesian journalist immediately retracts, rectifies, and corrects errors and inaccuracies in a news story accompanied with an apology to readers, listeners or viewers.
a. Immediately means as soon as possible, with or without a reprimand from an outside party.
b. An apology is extended if the mistake relates to a story’s substance.
The Indonesian journalist accedes to the right of reply and the right of correction in a proportional manner.
a. The right of reply pertains to the right of an individual or group to respond or to rebut a news story concerning facts that are injurous to the complainant’s reputation.
b. The right of correction concerns the right of anyone to rectify errors in information reported by the press, either relating to the individual concerned or anyone else.
c. Proportional means on par with the section of the news that requires correction.
Final judgment for any breach of the journalism code of ethics rests with the Press Council. Sanctions for any breach of the journalism code of ethics rest with the journalists’ organization and or the press enterprise concerned.
Jakarta, Tuesday, March 14 2006
Note: The Journalism Code of Ethics was drafted by 29 Indonesian journalists’ organizations and press enterprise organizations. The Press Council validated it in a letter of decision March 24 2006.