The Jakarta Post recently carried a commentary by one of its journalists alleging links between the Jakarta police chief and one of the militant groups terrorizing citizens with violence in the name of Islam.
This is great journalism if it is true. Unfortunately we'll never know because armchair journalism has replaced good old pavementment pounding and investigative journalism. While it is fine to repeat allegations that there are links between the police chief and one of the groups,what would be more responsible and fair to the police chief is for the reporter to go up to him and ask: 'Sir, I hear this about you…is it true and if so what do you have to say for yourself?'
But this is not done. in the article the reporter plays pundit, repeats hearsay which may or may not be true and declined his duty to make the office holders accountable. So things go on they murky ways, with few the wiser after the article.
I've always thought that of all the Indonesian institutions the Press held the most hope for keeping a check on the powers that be. It is sufficiently uncorrupted and fuelled by idealism to bring about change in Indonesia. Unfortunatley most journalists fail to realise that their opinions are powerless against thick-skinned officials and politicians. Opinions seldom bring about the downfall of public officials but in the history of journalism information usually does the trick. If the police chief is linked to the Islamic hooligans then the media should document this information, verify it from several sources and present the information to the public. then hold the police chief to account for this. Anything short of this and its the Press wanking away.