In the past, the Indonesian media’s main fear was censorship. Now their biggest challenge is to remain independent in a society where every stakeholder demands attention to their own agenda. For 46 years, Tempo has been the only independent publisher in Indonesia to publish investigative stories, and lays a crucial foundation for professional, critical and independent journalism in Indonesia.  

In 2017, together with Free Press Unlimited, Tempo organised a training programme for investigative journalists from local and national media from all over Indonesia. Six journalists received intense training in investigative journalism and 4 or 5 months of personal guidance from a senior investigative journalist. They also worked actively with organisations like Greenpeace Indonesia that have unique sources and contacts. 

The role of the media

With the Investigative Fellowship programme, Tempo and Free Press Unlimited strive to enhance the role of media in investigating and exposing corruption, human rights abuse and environmental degradation to reach wider impact and prompt responsive action. Since the start of the project ten high-quality investigations were conducted by investigative journalists. 

The first results 

One of the stories brought to light that over 40,000 Indonesians on board of Taiwanese fishing boats work as slaves. Tempo exposed these injustices at sea with hard evidence. After high-level talks between Indonesian and Taiwanese authorities, officials were arrested, civil servants fired, and regulations and supervision tightened.

Another story revealed an organised network of human trafficking. The research exposed the illegal trade in maids between Indonesia and Malaysia. 

On June 13th 2018, almost a year after the publication, both reports received honourable mention at the 'SOPA 2018 Awards for Editorial Excellence in the category Excellence in Investigative Reporting'.

Foundation for investigative journalism

Ruth de Vries, team leader at Free Press Unlimited: "We are proud that this honourable mention was awarded, it is well deserved. Our aim was to create a culture of investigative journalism in Indonesia. Investigative journalism can be a very effective way to increase transparency and to hold powers to account. We partnered with Tempo because of the long track record they have in the country and the shared goal to create a new generation of investigative reporters throughout the country."

With her investigative stories, Tempo lays a crucial foundation for professional, critical and independent journalism in Indonesia. This is also demonstrated by the Pulitzer Prize 2017 for the Panama Papers research team, of which Tempo was a part. Wahyu Dhyatmika, managing editor at Tempo: "We attach great importance to our independence, because our main reason for existing is to serve the public and thus build a more just society."