West Papua Media’s editorial policy is designed to enable our principal mission of assisting the development and advocacy of a free and open media capacity for West Papua, and to provide a Public Interest journalism service on issues affecting West Papua, for the international community.
West Papua Media is an independent human rights and civil resistance media outlet reporting breaking news, investigative journalism, analysis, opinion and co-productions with international and indigenous media outlets, about the daily situation in West Papua, and the West Papuan people’s attempts to overcome the repressive environment under Indonesian occupation and state violence.
As an innovative Press Agency and outlet dedicated to the concept of Peace Journalism[i], West Papua Media is unashamedly dedicated to ‘Breaking the Media Blackout in Papua’ through in-depth coverage of human rights abuses and civil resistance stories. By protecting and developing media freedom in Papua, it supports an open and transparent society that stands effectively for democratic values, freedom of speech and peaceful solutions to issues of violence and exploitation. Through the provision of ‘Safe Witness Journalism’ training and support to independent journalists in Papua, as well as providing effective fixing services to international media, WPM is assisting West Papuan journalists get their voices heard in the international media.
Our network of contributors is made up of the following sectors:
- A network of clandestine stringers, fixers, environmental and human rights investigators trained in WPM’s Safe Witness Journalism practice;
- Papuan and Indonesian professional journalists who also write for their own outlets;
- citizen and witness journalists – including civil society, church, and political activists who have passed story process tests on verifiability and credibility for news and investigations.
- We also receive (and welcome) contributions from witness journalists in West Papua and international journalists who work on the issue.
West Papua Media maintains a high credibility bar for all the information we publish.
All content written by West Papua Media goes through a stringent confirmation process – in most cases our self-generated content needs to go through a 5-6 independent source verification process before we treat anything as confirmed. This is far in excess of most mainstream media organisations, for example international wire services, who treat one-source statements from Indonesian occupation forces as fact, without attempting to seek witness confirmation or a Papuan view. We assume that the most credible sources of information are those that have actually witnessed events, and those who have interviewed the witnesses. We do not treat information from official sources as having higher credibility than civilians, and in fact, we are highly and permanently sceptical of official sources as they are often involved in trying to obscure the truth[ii].
One of the concerns some news editors have raised about using WPM content is that the news service appears to be ‘pro-separatism’, and therefore not fair and balanced in its reporting. WPM counters that compared with other sources of news, such as agencies (that newsrooms have easy pre-paid access to) WPM is less biased because it has eye-witness reporters in-country and we don’t privilege news from official PR sources that apply spin and gloss.
Whilst we are committed to factual and high quality credible journalism, West Papua Media seeks to work with all Papuan resistance and civil society groups. We are not a exclusive mouthpiece for a single Papuan perspective while at the same time we are embedded in the movement we serve, in as much as our mission of supporting the development of a robust and fearless free media in Papua as the basic democratic cornerstone of any free society. We see however as critical our commitment to independent and fearless journalism that reflects a diversity of opinion and tactics.
We also maintain our high standards of proof on the items that we syndicate from other Papuan media outlets. If it is a co-production, it must go through our verification process. If it is a straight syndication, then we will independently confirm the accuracy of the reportage before it is published, no matter the credibility track record of the syndicated outlet..
The nature of breaking news of course means sometimes we will get it wrong. Sometimes someone believed dead will turn up alive, and often exhaustive casualty numbers are never fully known until detailed human rights assessments have been made in the field. However, when we do get it wrong, we will correct our error and erroneous reporting as soon as we become aware of it.
West Papua Media also adheres to international standards of Press responsibility and bases its practice upon the guidelines of the Australian Press Council, including adherence to Australian defamation law. This does not mean however that West Papua Media is based in, or operating from, Australia. It simply means that the legislative protections on the Freedom of the Press under Australian law is the legal environment that we adhere to in our responsibility as journalists. Specifically, we do operate under the Commonwealth of Australia’s Evidence Amendment (Journalists’ Privilege) Act 2010, which legislatively protects the identify of our sources and attempts by official agencies to force disclosure of sources.
However, outside of these Press Rights, West Papua Media does not operate under, nor is subject to, Indonesian or any national legal jurisdiction as it is a transnational human rights journalism initiative, and as a human rights practitioner, is governed by established International Humanitarian Law.
WEST PAPUA MEDIA SOURCE PROTECTION POLICY
West Papua Media has a policy of absolute non-identification of our sources and stringers. Our entire Protective Witness Journalism model is based on the anonymity of our active crew on the ground, to prevent the killings, threats and intimidation of journalists and media workers that is so common in Papua, and to ensure that they can continue to work effectively without threats to their security or freedom to report.
If the human rights abusers do not know who is witnessing them and reporting on them, knowing that their actions could be broadcast internationally, then they are more likely to be behaving with restraint against civilians and people seeking to engage in peaceful free expression. This is the best weapon we have against continued impunity against human security abuse perpetrators.
For fixing services and co-productions for and with international media outlets, WPM is adamant that none of our sources on the ground are identified publicly. Though we can provide them to satisfy your verification requirements, it is on condition that they are never publicly identified – or identified outside the immediate production team. The risks are too great.
Furthermore, our sources – especially direct witnesses – for stories on any human security abuse (direct human rights, environmental, corruption, or violations of the rights to freedom of expression) have their anonymity protected as a matter of policy. We do maintain source records in electronically and physically protected formats, using (electronically) 4096-bit minimum encryption, and physical offsite safe data storage. We expect anyone who requires bona-fide access to source records to adhere to this data protection policy, and will provide the necessary training and open source software resource to those that do not currently have this capability (at reasonable cost for commercial requests).
All communications that may potentially identify protected sources in any way, or travel plans for clandestine reportage, must – again as a matter of safety and policy – be encrypted and follow our Safe Witness Journalism guidelines. We will advise what communications methods are safe and unsafe, and expect journalists to adhere to this. We have a large suite of extremely simple solutions to enable this to occur, and can provide reasonable cost training and equipment in this to any journalist that wishes to go into Papua.
Legal documents required to enter Papua have always been the responsibility of journalists, and whilst WPM advises a specific method, final choice rests with the journalists.
Nothwithstanding WPM’s pre-existing implicit application of financial responsibility by commissioning organisations according to established journalistic ethics, to be thoroughly clear, any breach or reckless abandonment of the WPM Source Protection Policy will require mitigation, advocacy and/or protection measures to be supported and paid for the contracting party, up to and including full resettlement, contingency and security costs for affected sources, fixers, translators, journalists or other personnel. It is important that any foreign journalists carry liability insurance that covers this. Fixing services are only provided on condition also that any person arrested or threatened by security forces will be provided with advocacy and financial Provision of fixing services has always been implicit with WPM Source Protection Policy, this is now making protection liability explicit. Failure to abide by these conditions will also result in factual publication of conduct. An ethical journalist should ALWAYS be responsible for the safety of a source or fixer.
In case of unlawful arrest or security force harassment of foreign or local journalists, fixers or associated sources during or after the story-gathering, commissioning organisations will be fully cooperative, communicate securely, truthfully and in a timely fashion with WPM, in order to engage in effective and pre-agreed media advocacy options with the Papua chapter of the Alliance of Independent Journalists; the national journalists union of the journalist’s home country, and international media safety organisations such as Reporters sans Frontieres.
We want to stop West Papuan people from being afraid of speaking out, and we want West Papua’s voice to be its weapon, to broadcast its songs for Freedom.
Provision of fixing and/or co-production services are all subject to full acceptance of this Source Protection Policy.
SYNDICATION & INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY POLICY
All original content by West Papua Media is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
Any reprints or syndication of original WPM content for non-commercial use must be attributed to West Papua Media and/or Westpapuamedia.info and the original content author. This extends to all original text, audio, video or photos appearing on westpapuamedia.info. All other use including commercial or for-profit use is subject to negotiation and/or payment/donation and is subject to copyright to West Papua Media and/or original content creators. Please contact editor @ westpapuamedia.info for syndication or content use requests.
West Papua Media also utilises content from other outlets and partners under Creative Commons principles for non-profit use. West Papua Media retains the right to reprint, embed or syndicate without charge any article or content by other organisations that has been written or produced with the assistance of any of our staff, fixers, stringers or editorial team. We will endeavour to remove any content that is so requested by copyright holders, and if commercial use is sought from us, we will fully disclose to copyright holders the request, seek further permissions, and if payment is given to West Papua Media, we will pass on proceeds to copyright holders in accordance with their wishes and rights.
We respect the assertion of rights to intellectual property and will honour any reasonable request. We are a non-profit and non-commercial entity so we cannot pay contributors, but we can greatly enhance the spread of your content.
Contributions subject to editorial policy always welcomed. Donations are welcome and required to enable this mission to succeed.
For more information on the rationale behind West Papua Media, please see the following papers:
[i] Peace Journalism is defined “when editors and reporters make choices – of what to report, and how to report it – that create opportunities for society at large to consider and value non-violent responses to conflict” (Lynch and McGoldrick, 2005)
[ii] According to the co-founder and coordinating editor of WPM, Nick Chesterfield, “Unlike media agencies, we actually bother to go after the witnesses and we find who the witnesses are, or we get human rights workers to go and interview the witnesses. We believe that human rights investigators in Papua are legitimate sources of information because they have been through a testing and vetting process, they’ve got a systematic process of gathering information and they can present raw data if required. But their data is very, very strongly labelled in our articles: this fact, that fact, that fact and that fact. You can’t argue with a (tested) table of victim data. These are the hard difficult sources and lengths that we’ve got to go through. We’ll much more trust a church person who’s gone through a strong process of a systematic report that’s done, showing all the data, than we will believe whatever the Indonesian government or security forces public affairs person said. Whereas a lot of the mainstream media, their first act is to ring up the Indonesian military and say: ‘Did you go and kill so and so? Or did you go and burn down 100 villages?’ And of course they are going to say that they didn’t, and the problem with the mainstream media, when it comes to Indonesia, with a few very, very honourable exceptions, is that they rely too much on official sources because it’s too hard to get to your local sources. And THAT is our big difference. We have the talent on the ground. (N. Chesterfield, quoted in Safety vs credibility: West Papua Media and the challenge of protecting sources in dangerous places;)