Journalism in Southeast Asia is triply constrained. In a given country, the regime in power may impose censorship or induce self-censorship. Outraged by an article, headline, or photograph, a threatening mob can achieve the same result. Concern for the bottom line may pressure commercial media to avoid "serious" analyses in favor of "lighter" stories with ostensibly greater reader, listener, or viewer appeal. Violence and sex may be featured for the same material reason. What is it like to work under such constraints? What strategies are available to journalists for defeating or deflecting them? How do the news environments in Indonesia and Thailand differ in these respects? What about the prejudices and preferences of journalists themselves? How do all these limits, incentives, and propensities go into the making of the news in Southeast Asia?
Yuli Ismartono is uniquely suited to answer these questions. As a correspondent for TEMPO, she covered wars in Cambodia and Sri Lanka, drugs in the Golden Triangle, the student uprising in Burma, the Soviet exit from Afghanistan, Russian elections, the first Gulf War, and events in Pakistan, the Philippines, South Korea, Vietnam, and, of course, Indonesia. For five years while TEMPO was banned, she worked in television and corporate public relations while writing for The Indonesian Observer. Her current responsibilities as executive editor include managing TEMPOInteraktif (online news).