Media Parahyangan

Menulis Untuk Indonesia

Journalistic Freedoms and Protections

3 min read


Oleh: Hune Mering (Fakultas Hukum Unpar 2011)

Penulis merupakan anggota Forwards 198 (Forum of Writing and Receptive Discussions 198) dan PILS (Parahyangan International Law Society).

Today people easily get information by electronic media and non-electronic media. This is all about journalistic freedom. The term appeared from implementation Article No. 19 of Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), in which case the article stated that everyone has the right freedom of opinion and expression. This right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media regardless of frontiers.[1]

Basically, journalist is a person who writes for newspapers and magazines or prepares news to be broadcasted on radio and television[2]; and journalism is activities of journalists. In regard to California shield law, a journalist is a publisher, editor, reporter, or other person associated with, or employed by a newspaper, magazine, periodical publication, press association, wire service, radio and television. Therefore there are news reporter, stringers, freelancers and authors.[3]

Journalism is part of society. The cultural, social and political features often affect journalists and journalism. Ideas, values and belief systems do not appear out of nowhere.[4] The journalist have code ethic. The news media play a crucial role in the production and dissemination of information.[5] Bill Kovach, an American journalist, wrote ten elements of journalistic[6] and those elements apply for all journalists of the world.

In accordance with Article No. 19 of UDHR, it is a must to protect the rights of journalists.[7] Another legal basis regarding the protections of journalistic is European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), pursuant on Article 10 (1) of ECHR, which is adopted by UDHR.

In armed conflicts situation, the journalist is protected by International Humanitarian Law. The Geneva Conventions and their Additional Protocols contain only two explicit references to media personnel. Explicitly, it is stated under Article 4 a (4) of the Third Geneva Convention and Article No. 79 of Additional Protocol I. The same holds true in non-international armed conflicts by virtue customary international law.[8] Therefore a journalist has the same meaning with civilian under the Geneva Conventions and their Additional Protocols. In regard to International Human Rights, the right to freedom of expression may be restricted to protect, among others, the rights of others, public order and national security if it is “necessary in a democratic society” to do so and it is done by law.[9] Thus the will to provide protections has some limitations.


[1] Universal Declaration of Human Rights, article 19,

<>, [07-09-2014, 11.38 pm].

[2] Oxford Dictionary, <>, [07-09-2014, 9.21 pm].

[3] First Amendment of California Shield Law, article 1 section 2 (b).

[4]Helle Sjovaag, The Meaning and Function of Journalistic Ideology, <>, [07-09-2014, 11.16 pm]

[5] Charlie Beckett and Shani Orgad, International Journalism and Society-The Role of the Media in the Modern World,

<>, [07-09-2014, 10.00 pm].

[6]Journalist’s Resource, <>, [08-09-2014, 12:04 am], and also see Bill Kovach and Tom Rosenstiel, The Elements of Journalism, “there are 10 elements, which are: first obligation is to the truth; loyalty is to citizen; discipline of verification; maintain an independence from those they cover; serve as an independent monitor of power; provide a forum for public criticism and compromise; strive to keep the significant interesting and relevant; keep the news comprehensive and proportional; allowed to exercise their personal science; and citizen, too, have rights and responsibilities when it comes to the news.”

[7] UDHR, Op.Cit.

[8] ICRC Resource centre, commentaries by Robin Geiss, How does International Humanitarian Law Protect Journalists in Armed Conflicts Situations,

< >, [08-09-2014, 1:21 am].

[9] Agnes Callamard. Freedom of Expression and Press Freedom: Protecting and Respecting Human Security, (13-14 July 2006).

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