Tuesday, 21 August 2007

Assorted thoughts

The most difficult thing for me to perform is to focus my mind and write something. I’ve got a very moveable attention. That’s a talent but also a weakness! While I want to write a subject, and did not have my mind really set in it yet, another subject is already filling in my head.

My daily activities are also a distracting factor. While I’ve got the volcano in me ready to make an eruption of all the words in my head, my boys or my other chores are waiting for my responsibility.

Writing diary is easier as it is on my own consumption. Writing an open blog is more difficult as I do need to verify and recheck all my back up data.
Today I want to make some short comments on my thoughts that might help me focus next time.

A subject that is long been in my mind is the migrant worker. Indonesian migrant worker is something that is very important to be put into attention. I am glad that some people in wikimu started to talk about it. One contributor in wikimu.com is also a woman who is working as a migrant worker in Hongkong. I just read that RI maids in Hongkong threaten to go on a strike. They were marching from Victoria Park to Hong Kong government offices in the central district to draw attention to the overcharging by recruitment agencies and their underpaid circumstances.

I was already thinking to write something on this matter when Dinah Sianturi published her article about Philippines’ migrant workers in OMNI. Soon after that more and more sad stories on Indonesian women migrant workers revealed in the national news. I know that something should be written on this matter. But I went to Seoul, being back with more new ideas that clouded this subject. Philippine’s women migrant workers seem to be more fortunate with their government attention than Indonesian women migrant. Some people are even considering closing the door for the Indonesian women migrant worker to go abroad. It is ridiculous; while we can not even able to help them find a proper salary here we are going to close their chance to have a better life for their family. And we should not forget that Indonesian migrant workers are not just the blue collar worker, we do have other trained and skillful worker as migrant worker all over the world. So, which migrant worker should have the permit, and which one should not? Isn’t it going to be an injustice?

Another subject that interested me is the editorial of the citizen journalism website. A recent article by Rajen Nair in OMNI interviewing Claire George, one of the former editors in OMNI is revealing the story from an editor point of views. Claire is also giving a very good advice of references to read. It would be a great input for my unorganized thoughts.

Editor is the front liner in meeting us the contributor. They are also the replacement of our readers, so they are really the important part of journalism. In citizen journalism they are having a more important place as some citizen might have no courage to write for the first time. They do need to build motivation and their self confidence to write. I saw it in wikimu.com how a person who was never fond of writing succeeded in writing a story helped by the editor. She was then continued to contribute in her style of writing. It might not be the first class standard of journalism, but it builds the spirit of writing. That’s what counted!
Citizen journalism is still a very dear subject to me right now. When I was in Seoul the editors in wikimu were busy with the allegation of providing a place for separatism articles. They had to endure long nights keeping their site clean from fake commentators (some were even using contributors’ name- which is not true as my name was also being used). As we go side by side with the mainstream media we could not really sure who sparkled the subject first. But before the separatism subjects come to the mainstream media it seems that the Papuan who had chances to write for wikimu.com had exposed their feelings. Now, mainstream media is focusing on the development of Papua. Kompas has even a team project who is visiting Papua. May be they had it already in their agenda. But a contributor to wikimu thanked wikimu as his village's activity for the indepence celebration was visited by the crew from Trans TV after the released of his article in wikimu.

I also learnt a lot from editors both in wikimu and in OMNI. Wikimu’s editors is nicer to contributor, they give detailed advice when we asked. They helped rearranging article of those new contributors, and keep giving support for readers or commentator to try to write. It is not that the editors in OMNI aren’t nice enough, they are also very supportive. Sometimes language barrier is also a problem. A minor mistake that they corrected sometimes is intentionally written. It is just like the editorial of the mainstream media. When you write inscription (as it is written on a stone) and they think you’ve mistaken the word manuscript, they’ll change the word!

The competition in OMNI is the real journalistic style, while in wikimu is the real citizen style. Perhaps it was caused by the different media readers. Wikimu’s basic are the real “citizen”, while OMNI’s basic are the real “journalist”. It is only a possibility taken from my perspective. I’ve seen that most of the featured writers in OMNI are journalist or scholars in journalistic. I’ve put my special attention to the women of the featured writers and saw that all of them have journalistic back ground. In Wikimu some of the favorite writers are not journalist, and did not have a journalistic training or background. Readers in wikimu also want a different style of writing. They tended to like a free writing style, and lighter subjects close to everyday life.

I think it is good to be able to release our views and help the mainstream media caught a glimpse of our thoughts to feed their newsroom. With their financial back up they could then perform a better investigative report for us the citizen. Then we can publish our comments in the citizen journalism website as our review of the subject. It is nicer as we do have space to voice out our views, the space in the mainstream media as in the readers’ letter is usually limited.

Now Kompas use the title Citizen Journalism for its Kokiers (I forgot what the title was before). But writing only for Kompas’ readers and gain the views of readers from the same media is not always enriching. We read a certain newspaper or a certain magazine because we share the same interest or public view. Participating in a citizen journalism websites made me aware of different views from other publication, or from other thoughts. It helped us to view things more objectively, and for Indonesian it is the real action towards democracy.

For wikimu I still had the idea about education for the blind. I’ve got it in my head, but I need to cut off my morning activities to be able to concentrate on writing. Hopefully it will begin on mid September.

I have to disagree with the idea that citizen journalism is death, it is not! It’s evolving and looking for its niche! I do hope it will grow together with the mainstream media as a complement of each other. It is the best way to survive together.

There are still some subjects dancing in my mind, but I think I’ll focus on the subjects above before leaping into another idea.

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