On February 9, Indonesia commemorated National Press Day (HPN) which took place in Surabaya, East Java. The date was determined by a Presidential Decree in 1985, based on the results of the 28th congress of the Indonesian Journalists Association (PWI) in Padang City, West Sumatra in 1978. This was driven by the eagerness of the community to set a historic day in a bid to commemorate the role and existence of the national press.
The commemoration of National Press Day is not only a ceremony to give awards to individuals and institutions that are considered instrumental in advancing press freedom, but is also an event that aims to improve the protection of workers in the media and maintain press freedom in Indonesia.
The national press is only able to develop and achieve success through continual support from the public. After a long journey, Indonesia obtained press freedom as the era of the New Order government began to collapse. Based on Law No. 40/1999 Concerning the Press, the government developed a new set of rules to develop the journalism profession and the realm of media activists, which provide written norms that allow the press to obtain legal protection that recognized the press’s social function as a communicator of public information.
Unfortunately, the Indonesian press does not always get full protection from all parties. According to the Alliance of Independent Journalists (AJI), the Indonesian press still faces a number of challenges. Cases of violence against journalists still occur, the AJI chronicling 64 cases of violence in 2017, up 60% from the year before. In addition, the press still faces challenges of maintaining high standards of professionalism, the level of public complaints to the Press Council almost doubling in 2017, an increase to 721 complaints in comparison to 400 in 2016.
For 2018, the ranking of Indonesian press freedom in the world is actually still at number 124, below Timor Leste. While Indonesia does compare better than some ASEAN members countries including the Philippines, Malaysia, Myanmar, Cambodia and Vietnam there is still room for improvement. This shows that the important role carried out by the Indonesian press needs to be of continual focus by the public.