Subject: East Timor Press Web Project



The Pacific Area Newspaper Publishers' Association (PANPA) launched a joint web-site for all print media in East Timor today at the organization's 31st annual conference in Sydney. The East Timor Press Web Project is maintained and hosted by staff and students of the School of Media and Journalism at the Queensland University of Technology. The site will be transferred to the management of East Timorese journalists in Dili early next year. The local journalists will be trained and supported in web-site development by UNTAET's Media Development Unit and Queensland University of Technology.

Two newspapers, Timor Post and Lenok, will be on-line at

from East Timor Press website: 

The East Timor Press: Background to the independent print media in East Timor

On March 26, 1999, members of the Indonesia-supported militia group Mahidi stormed the offices of Suara Timor Timur (Voice of East Timor), the main daily newspaper smashing equipment and the premises as retaliation against what they saw as 'antagonistic' reporting. Suara Timor Timur was a private newspaper owned by pro-Indonesia businessman Salvador Soares and was the main source of local print news under Indonesian rule.

When the Indonesian military withdrew from East Timor after the August 30 referendum the pro-integration militia torched what was left of the offices of Suara Timor Timur. The printing press and other production equipment were completely destroyed, but not the aspirations of East Timorese editors and journalists to produce uncensored news about the newly independent nation.

The Timor Post has risen from the ashes of Suara Timor Timur with the aim of publishing a tabloid Tetum language newspaper Monday to Friday. Currently the Timor Post is published three times a week under the editorship of Hugo da Costa and Vice Chief Editor Otelio Ote. Two independent weekly news magazines are also publishing, albeit sporadically, as equipment, print and journalists' salaries are hard to come by. Talitakum, edited by Virgilio (Gill) Guterres da Silva has published several Tetum editions and the Indonesian language Lalenok hopes to begin publishing soon.

In December 1999 East Timorese editors and journalists had gathered at the Hotel Tourismo and crafted a draft Declaration of Principles for the newly formed Timorese Lorosae (East Timor) Journalists' Association and agreed to hold their first Congress in mid-2000. Vice-President of the National Council for Timorese Resistance (CNRT), Jose Ramos Horta, has responsibility for media policy. He has stated that beyond a code of ethics and a press council East Timor's papers will not be specially regulated. "my philosophy when it comes to the media is to let a thousand newspapers and radio stations blossom".

(References:"Voices of freedom" by Andrew Dodd, Media, The Australian, April 6, 2000, p.6-7 and "East Timor and West Papua: 4 rebuilding the press" by Sonny Inbaraj in Pacific Journalism Review, Vol. 6 No. 1, Jan. 2000 with additional information from Bob Howarth)

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