Monday, 30 April 2007

Kids Around the World

While I succeed in interviewing Adrianto Gani, I failed to have the interview from Jessie Smith. Jessie is the founder of Kids Around the World in Canada. She was trying to gain funds and support to build a children museum that shows the diversities of culture in the world. It is her way of introducing other cultures to children from their young age. It would help erasing racism and discrimination based on races and skin colors, it would also enrich children with studies on art, culture and humanities (may be even science and technology as I dreamt of) from early age through a nice memory in an interactive children museum.
Not really failed actually, she asked me to wait until the 3rd week of May. I just think the moment is may be out of date as she disbanded the organization in April.

One question is answered; she has never try citizen journalism in the internet.

I am glad that she did manage to have a place in a children museum in Winnipeg to place her exhibits. So, it is not just disbanded and put away…
Hopefully it would keep the dream alive, and may be inspired others to start. May be we should start globally, and then one day put the pieces together in one place!

Interviewing's CEO

I’ve had my interview with Adrianto Gani, the CEO of, he is a nice and open minded person. We talked about, all the things related to the founding and building wikimu, then about the position of Citizen Journalism in the eye of the press. He even introduced a new label Civil Journalism (he heard about it somewhere), I really need to check it out.

I introduce OMNI to him. I thought by sending him the article about the collaboration work he would dig it out himself. Yet, he apologized for being very busy lately. Fortunately I’ve done my homework, I’ve read more about OMNI and about Citizen Journalism from Poynter.

He was really curious on how OMNI is running financially, that’s something he needs to find out himself! I gave him the slightest knowledge I had from things I’ve read, yet finance is not really something that ring a bell in my head!

He told me his awkward position as the CEO. Now as more and more members know him as the CEO, it seemed that people are waiting for his comment to end a discussion (this is about our mailing list, another new activity of Indonesians are still very attached to the hierarchy, and his position makes him at the top of the hierarchy. Yet, from my own perspective his awareness made him produce a good and acceptable comment.

As the example I raised question about the translation of wikimu’s slogan: bisa bisanya kita… From the mailing list of the Indonesian translators, Bahtera, I’ve got a comment to reconsider the slogan as it has a negative meaning. As slang, it doesn’t implied negative things. I posted the comments to wikimu’s mailing list and got a lot of replies. Yet, I’ve found that Adri’s comment is the closest in meaning, it could be applied to all the other comments.

Recently we are debating on “Do we need to make a guidance book for writing?”
I do think it is necessary to have the guidance as I do want to improve my quality of writing. The professional journalists are all pro guidance, but there are members who thought that it would cut their freedom of writing, it would make them loose their own style of writing. Adri doesn’t want to sound his perspective as it might end the discussion. But, sooner or later one member will yell…”Pak Adri, what do you think?”

I told him about the SG and IG articles in OMNI to give him more variety of input. Personally I think we must be very careful in making a decision. Wikimu is popular as people feel they own it, their comments are really considered. (I’ve been writing about the dilemma for writing to wikimu as “unknown” contributor to the mainstream media in my other post). The priority of at the moment is to gain as much readers’ attention to write. I’ve been dealing with mainstream media’s rejection from my young age, yet finding my second article stays in SG articles is not really “OK” with me. I was happy though that people could still read it (only if they unfortunately bumped to it). So, a really novice writer will be disappointed and put off the light in his/her writing spirit (may be the same reason of my unwillingness to write after series of rejection from the conventional media?!)

When they first founding wikimu, they even think they would receive any short message from the cell phone to cater the needs of recent information. So, why don’t they continue that way? Be different! But, they need to think about writer like me who is in the middle between pro and ordinary citizen journalist. We do need guidance to improve our skill. Or as Outing had mention in Poynter, how about the internship (journalistic students), they do need to improve their writing skill in practice.

There was one other interesting topic besides many others that we’ve been discussing that evening, I will write about it in the other post to come.

Saturday, 28 April 2007

What is Citizen Journalism?

I’ve just read Steve Outing’s post in Poynter Online, I do not agree if the term citizen journalism means citizen practicing amateur journalism.

May be I am an amateur journalist, but there are a lot of qualified journalists contributed in the citizen journalism website. I do think that citizen journalism is the best term. Even the pro became a citizen when they wrote out their stories for a citizen journalism website. We are all the same in spirit, posting an article as the citizen of the world, globally. We posted our views locally as the citizen of our country. We will be differentiated by the way we write it out.

We posted our article driven by the same idealism, to change something, to introduce ourselves, to introduce our countries. At least it is the way I did it for OMNI and

I sometimes contribute to the mainstream media, but I am not known yet. My articles usually appear on opinion or views. Mainstream media need your opinion if you are “somebody”. Being a homemaker would not make you countable. You’ve got to strive ahead to give your opinion (except for the letter to the editor). Sometimes people even had prejudice against “an amateur”. If you write something they will think you are “selling” them.

Writing in a citizen journalism website is really different. Writing for OMNI and cost me around US$100 on internet last month. That’s doubled the money I’ve got from being a subject teacher in an elementary school. Instead of getting money (I’ll get some from OMNI, yet it won’t pay my internet expenses) I was spending money. I took it as my tutoring expense. I do not really get direct tutoring from, but growing up with them and seeking public reaction through my articles there I could learn a lot about writing for public, marketing your idea, and tolerate different point of views. I’m also learning to be careful not to jump into my own conclusion. I heard Harry Dharsono (a well known Indonesian designer) said in a talk show recently:” People learned from mistakes”. I did learn how and why I made that mistake in writing through citizen journalism website.

When I first wrote for I found out the outlet I need. I sometimes frustrated by the long waiting from the mainstream media, and it ended only by getting rejection when the issue was already gone with the label “out of date”. My heart was really broken if later on somebody else write almost the same thing in the same media (and get published!). Sometimes I do not really care about the writing fee as long as my voice is heard. Yet, I learnt through how the same idea could be popped up into different heads on the same time. In citizen journalism, your submitting time is the important key of pioneering. However the content and the way you express your idea will affect readers’ vote.

Something that triggered me more are the comments from its readers. It really lit up my writing spirit. It is nice knowing that my point of views is taken the right way, or to be able to correct your readers misunderstanding. It is also a way to implement the real democracy.

Yet, I am afraid that my presence in will label me as “amateur”, which will make me more difficult to submit my views through mainstream media. Indonesians are still very dependent on the conventional media, to educate Indonesian people we do need the help of the conventional media.
It’s a good thing though that conventional media is also peeking into the citizen journalism website. Yet, like a professional journalist collaborator stated in his article in the mainstream media, is not a media with high standard of editing. That was the reason behind my entering OMNI. I need to gain more skill to become a real citizen journalist. I underline the word journalist as I do lack journalism background.

Joining OMNI opened my horizon, as I do need to think as a citizen of the global world. What would people wanted to know from Indonesia if they don’t even know the name? Yes, sometimes Bali is more famous than its country. People know or heard about Bali but don’t really know where Indonesia is. Is it near Bali?

I think that is the basic of citizen journalism. Acted as a good citizen, and delivered information to help building the nation. Being in the international citizen journalism website make me think as a citizen of the global world.

Serving my local citizen journalism website is to serve the Indonesian people and bring them to know the global world through a global perspective. Serving the international citizen journalism website is to help putting Indonesia into the global world through an objective point of view. Foreigner could have study Indonesia, but sometimes we are the one who experience and know better the content of our own country (see my post titled “Why Indonesia Matters, Why Panca Sila matters”). Together with other citizen journalists I believe we could at least make the world a better place!

Thursday, 26 April 2007

Grieving on Violence

Monday, April 23, 2007 the sky in Jakarta is weeping together with the family and friends of Partahi Mamora Halomoan Lumbantoruan as his body lowered to the ground. He was one of the thirty two victims in the Virginia Tech. massacre.

He was awarded a Ph.D. degree posthumously. A degree that made him flew over to the United States of America. Pursuing a dream to be a better teacher, he was supported by his family who even sold their rice fields to finance the study.

It is an irony that the gunman blamed his crazed action towards the high class of the society. He addressed his anger to the people he referred as snob and greedy. But, here lies a modest man, who had never been living such a glamorous life. Mora, as he was called by his friends, came there to share the American dream.

A lot of Indonesians are dreaming to have a chance to study abroad, in America particularly. I was one who ever shared the same dream. It is a dream to achieve higher education, and to be able to taste the democracy and freedom of the American. Now as a mother I keep a dream to be able to send my sons to have a higher study abroad.

Mora’s stepmother cried she called out the name of Mora’s belated mother to come pick up his son’s spirit. She promised to take care of him, and she did! She was now confused on the fact that there are guns in the dormitory, and to the fact that the classroom is not a safe place for her son.

The incident happened just a few days before the eight years of Columbine school massacre. Seung-Hui Cho, the man behind the guns, seemed aware of the tragic massacre in Colorado. He probably even chose the date carefully to perform his action in Virginia.

Debates launched on US gun control. Eight years after the Columbine school massacre there is no improvement in the law of controlling gun and controlling the purchaser.

Boris Kaimakov from Moscow (RIA Novosti) noted that although Russian media outlets focus on the arms trade in the United States, the Russian online discussion also point out to the American way of life and youth mentality. One blogger make his note: There is a cult not so much of abstract wealth as of routine consumption. Your colleagues, neighbors, girlfriends, parents and kids – all judge you by the price of your car, cell phone, watch and all that. The more expensive things you buy the greater the success you are. Otherwise you are a loser, and God help you. That’s true not only for the States. It’s like that everywhere – in Russia, too. You have to show off day in, day out. You always feel uncertain of your success, and afraid of becoming the underdog. How to relax, to get away from it all? We Russians have vodka, and Americans have guns” (Virginia Tech campus tragedy proves U.S. gun control is a must, The Point, April 20, 2007).

This is so true, Indonesians are also driven to the instant success and consumption as the barometer of success. People are pushing their children to go from courses to courses in order to gain a better place in the society. We worked hard to provide money to buy all the consumer goods, to give the chance our sons play PS and Game Boy as his neighbor friends, or to play Barbie Doll to our little girl.

While the violence in PS game and Game Boy was introduced to our sons, our girls tried hard to copy the beauty of Barbie, leaving them with insecure feelings.

Not long before, Indonesians were shocked by the death of Cliff Munthu, a freshman from IPDN (a college that will provide us with civil servants). His death is due to the severe military like training where he was hit brutally. People reactions made the president asked IPDN to halt this year’s new enrollment. Even without a gun, the grief is also the same. Even it is only one person, the tragedy is also a tragic incident.

While gun control is also a good issue, the control over violence in the media is much more important to deal with. Our children saw it through the games we bought for them, through the television set we watch at home, through our anger after a long day of hard work. They saw it and they’ll keep it in their memories.
If they grow up this way, no doubt we’ll face the same problem as the American, may be even worse than that.

Tuesday, 17 April 2007

Why Indonesia Matters, and Why Pancasila Matters

For me, it matters as I was born here, grew up here, and most of all because I am Indonesian. Kennedy said, “Don’t ask what your country can do for you, but ask what you can do for your country!”

Actually I was raised up to contribute something for my country. In the church we are always taught to serve our obligation to our country (Matthew 22:21). An obligation to our country is not limited to pay taxes, but also to help build it the right way.

Yet, I’ve got the mental blocked to enter the politic. But as one of my father’s friend said, “Even as a home maker you are already in the politic, as a citizen you are already serving the politic!” I remember him, Pak Kartono, a minister from Sukarno era (if I’m not mistaken). He was such a good Muslim, but he could share the happiness of Christmas by visiting us on Christmas day. My parents would pay them a visit in the end of the fasting month (hari raya Idul Fitri).

A call to Prayer, an article in the Time Magazine written by Hannah Beech, is not wrong. There is a fundamental change in the nation. More friends are not willing to bless us “Merry Christmas”, because they were taught that it means they celebrate Christmas too. So it is not only the matter of women clothing! I’ve got a lot of friends who use jilbab but still very moderate in their way of thinking.

I missed something from Indonesia, something I’ve been bragging to my pen pals; the unity in diversity. I used to give them lecture of how tolerate we, Indonesian, are. May be the vision came because I always stay in Jakarta, the melting pot of Indonesian culture.

I grew up in Kebayoran. Behind my house there is a small musholla with the speaker near to my bedroom. I used to hear the call for prayer, I used to hear the call for “saur” (the breakfast before a fasting day). I even did my thesis on my last year of architectural study with the morning sermon of Ramadhan. So I knew how lonely it would be for Indonesian Muslims who had to do their Ramadhan fasting in a non Muslim country.

Raden Ajeng Kartini mentioned in one of her letters, that while all religions were founded on the same basis; which is to love and to help each other, she would stick to her religion. She was born as a Muslim, and she did question a lot of critical questions but she was always devoted to her religion.

Not long ago, one of the children I teach in an English course asked me: ”Miss, why don’t you become Islam? You’ll be saved forever!” A remark from an innocent child made me think deeply. Is it really come from a seven year old girl, or she got it from her school or family?

Indonesia is now facing a lot of problems. Economically we are struggling. The hard struggle made people envy those who have money. Unfortunately, being a Chinese descendant will make people automatically think you are rich. Furthermore, the education is also lack of good educators. Because a teacher is a hero without any reward (Pahlawan tanpa tanda jasa), it is really difficult to find a real good and competent teacher.

I thought Pak Harto was also a leader with forwarded vision, he was only blinded by the feeling of being a sultan from the Indonesian Archipelago (as remarked by Singaporean leader Lee Kuan Yew).

Yet, Hannah Beck is wrong about "recycling an old ideology tainted by its association with a former dictator". She should try to know Pancasila before stating this remark.

Pancasila is the five (panca) basic foundations (sila) of this country. It came from deep reflections of our nation’s founding fathers. It is something remarkable if we can have it implemented in our daily lives.

The first sila is to believe in God the Almighty. All religions believe in God, the One and the Only Creator of the world. There was time when they added the obligation to do the shari’ah for muslims in this first foundation. But later on, we came back to the basic Pancasila. I think it is a must for everybody who acknowledged themselves as having a religion, to try to practice all the good deed they got from the religion.

The second sila is the humanity

The third sila is the unity of Indonesians. As a multiracial and multiethnic country with different religious background, the Indonesian “Unity in Diversities” lies here.

The fourth sila is the people power represented in the legislatives.

The fifth sila is the social justice to all Indonesians.

If all of Indonesian leaders follow Pancasila by heart, there will peace in Indonesia. Basically all Indonesian loves living in harmonious life, but the economical drives, the political drives make us torn apart.

Suharto realized the golden rules in Indonesian basic philosophical thinking, imposed it on educating Indonesians. Anything overly imposed will have no good result, especially when the leader himself did not follow it.

So sticking to Pancasila is really matters, and practicing it is the way we solve our problems. Not by preaching Pancasila, but by implementing it on all sectors. Then, Indonesia will really be something in the eyes of other countries.

Monday, 16 April 2007

Buah Pena

Blog ini bernama buah pena karena berawal dari penulisan di citizen journalism website yang dimasukkan ke dalam blog...

Tapi rasanya repot banget ngurusin copy paste tulisanku...ya sudahlah, yang mau lihat tulisan silahkan masuk ke atau ke Ohmy News International, sementara ini tulisanku baru diposting di dua tempat itu.

Buah pena might be translated as the fruit of a pen, so is this blog's name...
It is from the writings I've produced for the citizen journalism website imported back here...

But I got too lazy to copy and paste it back, I decided to stop taking it back here. You could search for my writings in (Indonesian) and Ohmy News International (English). For the time being, that's the two citizen journalism websites I write for right now!

I'll manage to write my comments on my writings.

Kharisma Seorang Sultan is my way of growing up (old enough to grow up, hein?!), that's is the first time I managed to publicly admit my Chinese descendant in writing. I always feel as a Makasarese, and filling the form with the "suku" question always puts me in trouble. I do not want to write down Chinese, while others would not want to acknowledge me as Makasarese. The term indigenous is only raised when filling the form, as in conversation they'll accept if I say I'm Makasarese. I was raised up as an Indonesian with Makasarese dialect and Bahasa Indonesia as my mother tongue. So, being a child born in the New Ordre, I was confused, unwilling to publicly admit Chinese as my background. Being a middle class Chinese is not an easy way of life, so by writing the fact in an online citizen journalism website is a big leap for me!

I'm preparing an article about Kartini, she lived a hundred year prior to this era but she wrote openly about her feelings. She got the enlightment...I hope I will too!

Wednesday, 11 April 2007

A New Spirit of Writing Is Here!

I was always keen to study abroad, but I knew that it was too much to ask!
I've persuaded a scholarship, but I did not gain it. Later on, I quit all jobs to concentrate on my family. But something inside me is driving me crazy...I don't know why I always wanted to do something more. I don't know what I'm trying to proof, or to whom I'd like to proof it...

Now, it seemed that my spirit in writing is really waking up. Citizen journalism made me lively. It's something that do not bring money, but I really feel alive in it!

I've also found a new way of learning through OHMI. As a contributor to a journal, you'll never got such a nice guidance like the one I've got from its senior editor, Mr. Thacker.
Typically me, use long sentences, have a wandering mind...(not a good student, actually it is also due to the cost of being online...lazy to read all the fact in FAQ!).
It is really like learning to write again, learning to seek into my heart, and to express it out loud!

Hoping that the flame of writing would not fade away...
Need to doubled my talents, or He would ask me and I don't even remember where did I hide it!