The Indonesian reformasi era ushered in a more vibrant, independent press that has contributed significantly to the nation’s democratic deepening over the last two and a half decades. Although challenges to a truly free press remain, the Indonesian press has become an influential fourth pillar of democracy, rendering it critical in fighting corruption, forming public opinion, and providing checks and balances to young democratic institutions. The proliferation of broadcast and print media across the archipelago has both increased access to information for Indonesians, and helped the world to better understand and engage this dynamic country.
Today, the democratization of the Middle East may create opportunities for the birth of a free press in other Muslim-majority countries, just as the fall of the New Order regime did for Indonesia. As international audiences seek to learn more about these nascent democracies, it will become increasingly important to understand how journalistic values are influenced by, and practiced in tandem with, Islamic ones.
On April 11, USINDO hosted an Open Forum on Islam and Journalistic Values with Dr. Janet Steele to discuss how Muslim journalists in Indonesia express the universal values of journalism within an Islamic idiom.