The mission of Indonesian journalism: Balancing democracy, development, and Islamic values

Document Type



Graduate School of Media and Communications


Abstract: Indonesia, the world’s third largest democracy, has been called a template for Muslim political reform and has the potential to serve as a bridge between the United States and the Islamic world. Indonesian journalists play a vital role. Since the collapse of the Suharto regime in the late 1990s, the Indonesian media sector has experienced its own revolution. A nationwide survey of 600 Indonesian journalists finds that while the influence of Islam in the newsroom is increasing, journalists support the separation of mosque and state and reject militant Islam. Their attitude toward the United States has improved under Obama and, while skeptical of American motives, they support continued American aid. Although most reject Suharto-era government-mouthpiece media functions, they have not yet fully embraced the role of watchdog. They say that the industry as a whole, and they as individuals, are still not free, but cite their own lack of professionalism and poor ethics as the greatest threat to their industry. The echo of the development journalism model that prevailed in the Suharto years can be seen in the top priorities of Indonesian journalists.


This work was published before the author joined Aga Khan University.

Publication (Name of Journal)

The International Journal of Press/Politics