Many journalists disagree. Ignatius Haryanto, a younger but still senior journalist who teaches journalism at several national universities, thinks there should be a clear line between being an activist and a reporter. “Both roles will not always be in harmony. There may be potential conflicts of interest from the dual roles that can affect the news,” he said. “You can’t write news that you made yourself.”
Haryanto thinks it’s fine for journalists as state citizens to have their own views, but that doesn’t mean expressing them as part of the news. Journalists already take a position as part of their job by selecting what issues to cover and contributing needed information for the public and so there’s no need to go further and assume an activist identity. As for writers like KR’s Andi, Haryanto suggests he choose one role and not the other, without switching back and forth as he sees fit.
The environmental journalism community in Indonesia seems to be divided over whether to have an overlapping role as an activist. But where ever they stand on this point, environmental journalists are still clearly playing a big role in the country’s green movement: some by reporting the news, and others choosing to act further.
Correction: The text of this article was changed to reflect the fact that Emil Salim did not initiate the formation of Hukli, as originally stated, but rather solicited the group’s cooperation to foster environmental awareness in Indonesia.