A history of Australian journalism in Indonesia



Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


School of History and Politics


This thesis examines the changing professional practice of Australian journalists since they began reporting in Indonesia from 1945. Existing literature on the Australian media in Indonesia has emphasised the problem of biased and troublesome Australian journalists who have deliberately caused bilateral relations disturbances between Australia and Indonesia. It is argued that the existing literature overstates the agency of Australian journalists, and downplays the attitudes and roles of governments and news forces in the shaping of journalists’ professional practice. This thesis will show how Australian journalists and their Indonesian staff have attempted to report what they saw as the ‘truth’ from the archipelago, yet have been subjected to numerous pressures and vii constraints that hinders their professional practice and limits their autonomy. In particular, Indonesian staff working for Australian news agencies have been subjected to numerous pressures from a hierarchical system of newsgathering and from their own government. The Indonesian Government and military have attempted to control the flow of news through often crude and violent tactics to hinder journalists’ professional practice. The Australian Government, which supports the notion of a free press, has also limited Australian journalists’ professional practice in Indonesia. The news system requirement for journalists to seek elite sources and the improvements in communications technology have also hindered the freedoms for Australian journalists as they operate from Indonesia. Thus, it is argued that Australian journalists in Indonesia and their local staff have worked under a range of constraints and have been pressured to serve a variety of competing masters in reporting from the archipelago. Their work has to be understood as a complex artefact crafted in response to this range of insistent and intrusive pressures.

This thesis is unavailable until Tuesday, October 27, 2015