Tuesday, 29 January 2008

Indonesia Bids Adieu to the 'Smiling General'

Dilemma of forgiveness: Between morals and law

On the afternoon of Jan. 27, H. M. Soeharto, a former president of Indonesia who ruled for 32 years under the new order, passed away due to the failures of organs. In his age (eightysix-year-old), when he should be ready to leave in peace, he was still haunted by some legal cases. He won his controversial case against Time magazine, but the daily Jakarta Post express its concern towards Indonesia's Press Law.

Being hospitalized since January 4, 2008, Soeharto has made the Indonesian media following his condition by the hour, either at the hospital or in a complex of family funeral in central Java.

Opinions in the printed media, online media, and blogs are flooded with views on his status as a former president and the legal status of being the suspect in a corruption case. People were discussing the term of forgiveness (read this, and this as the examples), while the human right activists were accusing the media of building people’s opinion to forgive him and enhancing his good deeds. Even foreigners were sending their opinions to the English daily Jakarta Post, saying that forgiving him could encourage corruption in the country.

H.M. Soeharto was born on June 8,1921 in Kemusuk, a small village near Jogjakarta, Central Java. His father was a farmer. His childhood as a son of a farmer also dominated his attention to the agricultural sector in Indonesia.

His military career had helped him to gain his way to the presidential chair. The 30th September Movement in 1965, which was also marking the fall of communism in Indonesia eased his way to take over the political power from Indonesian first president Soekarno.

His wife, known as Madame Tien Soeharto, became his biggest supporter and helped him gain his votes by organizing the wives of military and the wives of government officers through the organization related to their husbands' offices. Yet, these organization were only to enhance the patriarchal system, not empowering women's political movement.

Women's organizations as the part of national movement died away after the accusation for some women's organizations that they take part of the torturing and murdering generals in the 30th September Movement. Madame Tien Soeharto was also involved in several projects such as the building of Taman Mini Indonesia Indah (the Miniature of the Beautiful Indonesia) to show the richness of Indonesian culture, a project that was objected through demonstrations but later on had the chance to show its beauty. She passed away on April 24, 1996.

The economic crises that hit Asian countries was also enhancing the back ground of the student’s movement that forced Soeharto to step down from his presidential reign on May 21, 1998.

Soeharto gained the title Bapak Pembangunan (the Father of Indonesian development) for the physic and economic development of Indonesia during his time. He was clever enough to pick his aides and coordinate them to be able to put the country in economic progress to be one of the Asian Tigers. His former ministers confessed that he had the ability to learn the situation quick, to listen to his assistants' arguments, and give his full support to make the idea into realization.

Grassroots Indonesians were also enjoying the economic development in his era. His attentive approaches towards farmers made him a great father to most Indonesian farmers. People who gained scholarship through the organization he founded would not forget his aid that uplifted them from being poor.

Respect also came from other leaders. Singapore’s Senior Minister Lee Kuan Yew, the former Prime Minister from Malaysia; Mahathir Muhammad, and Brunei's King Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah were among all foreign friends who came to pay him their last visit in the hospital and will also join the crowd in the funeral ceremony.

But, it weren't only friends who came to the hospital. Last week protesters were also demonstrated in front of the hospital to ask people to remember all the human right violations and the corruption cases happened under Soeharto’s leadership. They asked the government to continue probing into his corruption case. Perhaps the duality of meaning behind his mysterious smile (either agree or disagree) also popping out its fruit.

I was born in the era of the new order, most of my readings were restricted to books available. After the reformation period in 1998, the freedom of the press and publication granted me access to read more books which unveiled the hidden side of Indonesian history.

His step-brother, Probosutedjo, made his remark while visiting him to the hospital: “Soeharto had his five yearly reports as a President and was accepted by the MPR (People's Consultative Assembly). The only period he missed was the two months period between March to May 1998, the moment of his resignation as a president”.

As a citizen who was far away from the real political world I think he was right. As a children I grew up to witness the counting of votes for the five years election of our legislatives. Citizen were always involved in the campaign forwarding the general elections. Most Indonesians were all taking part in Soeharto's actions, either voluntarily or under psychological pressure. Citizens who voted for him, the media who were afraid to loose their publication permit, all were responsible in supporting Soeharto.

Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono canceled his trip to open the Anti Corruption Conference in Bali and announced seven days of mournings for the smiling general. He will be leading the funeral ceremony today (January 28th, 2008) in Central Java. Soeharto preferred to be buried beside his wife in the family funeral parlor.

Morally Indonesians forgive him and remember all his great contributions to the country. Half mast flags are playing with the wind in front of citizen's houses. Ordinary people also came to the family house in Jalan (street) Cendana, to pay him their last respect. Television, radio, and the internet in Indonesia are all signaling their mournings. Yet, the law and the history of Indonesian as a state will still need the legal verification to answer the long crying of the victims of human rights' violation. How Indonesian deal with this problem will be the basic step to launch back as a great country, this time in a real democracy! History should be learn in an objective view.

Let me quote Herodotus: "Very few things happen at the right time, and the rest do not happen at all; the conscientious historian will correct these defects." We do need to let these conscientious historians work properly or we are to face what George Santayana said: "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it".

The Story of My Masseuses

Visually impaired people in developing countries plead for a normal life

I love those classic readings that enriched my views as a child. One of my favorite books is about Helen Keller. It is not only about Helen Keller and how she went through her ordeal, but also about her parents and teachers as well. How they struggled to help little Helen overcame her anger toward her disability made me realize how important it is to have the best support to make one feels as a part of family and as a part of the community, and to have her success in the long run.

My relation with the blind was limited to Helen Keller’s story and some masseuses that I knew. I knew those blind masseuses since my childhood as my father used to call blind masseur to massage him. There was a time when I was enchanted by one masseur’s expertise on the piano. He studied how to play piano by himself, but he did play beautifully in my young ears.

Then I too become attached to the pleasure of massage. I did make massage as my monthly routine during my pregnancy. After the babies’ delivery I continued to use my masseuse help to keep me feel refreshed.

I like having their services as I do give them their right not a charity. We exchanged stories. Mostly my masseuse married to another blind masseur. And they’ve got normal kids. I was fascinated to hear how she managed to cook for her family, growing up the baby, etc. She was even still on duty during her late pregnancy, something that made me a bit ashamed because I complained a lot during my own pregnancy.

Once I’ve got to know a young girl. She was graduated from Senior High School and was really eager to continue studying English language in the university. She failed the entrance tests for several times but she did not want to quit trying. She needed to be a masseuse to save money for her study. She introduced me to the existence of the library for the blind. She opened my horizon that the blind need more than just to survive their financial need. They want to survive the world as other normal citizens.

I remember some last meetings I had with her. She was not happy because people did not understand her. She did not want to serve massaging men, especially as she committed herself to use the headscarf or jilbab in Bahasa Indonesia. I honored her view because it shows that she understand the real meaning of using the headscarf, she was not using it on fashion. She was not working by herself; her employer was blind couples who also serve massaging. Sometimes she could not refuse the call if there were nobody else to serve their costumer. Perhaps that was why she quit her job and moved away from my neighborhood, but she did say that she would love to have more time to seek for her study continuation.

I don’t know where she is now. But I’ll never forget her spirit to continue her study. I am sure that her monthly income from massaging people will be much higher than the amount she’ll receive as a lecturer here in Indonesia. She hung her dream high in the sky, a spirit that I have to learn from her!

Recently, another meeting with a blind who has a bachelor degree in law reminded me of my old masseuse. I then wrote an article about how we e-mailed each other as I was researching into her organization Yayasan Mitra Netra. That time I was preparing an article for the Indonesian local citizen journalism website. I knew that it would be a new finding for most of our Indonesian readers that a blind person can "read" and googling through the internet.

Then I came to the realization of how important it is to do something for those blind in the lower level of financial economy to help them grab their chances in education. The organization Yayasan Mitra Netra has been trying to ask writers to give their consent over the soft copy of their book to be printed in Braille. Some publishers were still against it although the writer has accepted to give their permission for free. Perhaps these publishers were afraid of the leak of information that could affect the sale of their books.

The case is not only on their right to have proper readings. A while ago I curiously asked another blind masseuse if she do have private insurance. I knew she could make a lot of money when she is healthy, but whenever she got sick she won’t get any income. She did not have any insurance neither did her blind husband. She was a bit hesitant that the insurance company would take her as a client. Some banks had previously refused to take her as their clients. How odd! I managed to give her name and problem to my friend who is working as an insurance agent. She admitted that they’ve got to go through a longer procedure to get the insurance policy issued, but now the head of the family has his insurance protection.

Some weeks ago I saw in the television the existence of blind police officers. According to an article I read in Yayasan Mitra Netra Website, Indonesia now has two PHDs. But in the grassroots there are more supporting actions should be made to help them come out from the darkness like Helen Keller. Mass media including the internet should become the enlightenment that various vocations can also belong to the blind, and they deserve normal life like all citizens.

Angin Pun Berbisik (Dialog Puisi Irwan Dwi Kustanto)

A personal dialog with Irwan Dwi Kustanto's poems. Hope that I can translate it soon (Promise...promise...promise..., yet the energy and time are not really backing me up)

Friday, 25 January 2008

Angin Pun Berbisik: Antologi Cinta Tiga Manusia

This is about the first poet book written by an Indonesian blind together with his wife and his daughter. I was actually keen on working this one for OMNI, but my mood to write in Bahasa Indonesia was bigger than into English. I produced another piece, "A Dialog With The Poem of Irwan Dwi Kustanto", it is still queues up in the editor's choice of today's article. Hope they will up load it soon. That is more personal. Perhaps this author background in philosophy is the one that makes me diving deep into his poems. Critics that I've met in the book launch have their own preferences, and I do have my own! It was nice join in that book discussion as Melani Budianta (a well known lecturer from the University of Indonesia) and Joko Pinurbo (a poet) could open the veil of some hidden meaning behind those words. This is the first poetry book discussion I joined. I came looking for an article for citizen journalism website, but I found my spirit as a writer waking up... (I should try to look back at those books of my poetry that laid untouched for years somewhere in my shelves).

Unfortunately I could not stay to watch the real book launch, where they integrated the poems with music and other artistic performances. I've got to prioritize my children at home. I was late arriving to the bus stop, my shuttle bus to Serpong left already, Ive got to wait for another hour...but God is always kind to a person with a good deed, some women offered me to join their pick-up car. They used to gather some money for the owner of the car so they can travel together faster and cheaper to and from their office. What a lucky day! I got home perfectly on dinner time (a bit late but the children are still waiting!)

Mainan Jepang: Tradisional dan Kontemporer

Japanese Toys: Traditional and Contemporary

Just uploading my recent visit with my children to the Japan Foundation. Japan and Indonesia is celebrating its 50th years of being friend, but I do not have time to visit a lot of events to make an article for OMNI. I knew this one would be a good topic, especially with the Japanese Prince and Princess paying us a visit!

It was nice when my cousin commented in the article about the eye of Durama. I never knew that Durama's eye is where we put our wishes and the other one is to mark its fulfillment. We are close cousins, but story came out through the internet...amazing isn't it?!

I have to note that my laziness in pulling an effort towards photography is "rewarded"...my pictures are not as "catchy" as I wanted them. My camera's fault or myself? Some professional photographers did point out the operator's fault...he...he...he...

Rumah Kaca (07): Suara Media

Working on a fiction story? Never!
I did try actually. Perhaps I still keep some papers that were written for Anita or Gadis, Femina, or whatever, but never being sent! I always think that fiction is not my type of work.

Some friends from wikimu.com are making an interactive fiction story. The first person uploading his story is Aloys Wisnuhardana, the title is The Glass House. It has to be related to the global warming. Being persuaded by friends in the community to join in this story made me produce this one. Continuing the story, I put myself in the shoe of a citizen reporter who is going to do his investigative report together with a mainstream media reporter in Riau, Sumatera.

I don't know how this story will go on and how it will end up. I don't know if I'll contribute again in this story or not...time will tell!

Pasar Barito Dalam Kenangan

I wanted to share my memory about the kiosks in Barito. How they fill in my memory as a child and then as an adult, how they enriched my life, my brothers' and my children's knowledge of facts of life!

Government can take away their selling place but memories are planted in our head. A pity that friends from my old elementary school did not react to this article. Some of them would probably have a longer time browsing there after school than me...

This article will also stand as a reminder for the government if they are not really work on a better Ayodya Park.

Keberuntungan Adalah Kesigapan Menangkap Kesempatan.

Luck is being prepared to catch the chances!

(article is shown in www.wikimu.com, sorry translated version will be updated later)

Friday, 18 January 2008

Mengenali Kesempatan yang Hilang di Rimba.

There are a lot of opportunities provided in the rainforest. Ecotourism is one of the opportunities that will help local people to empower themselves. Yet, we do have a lot of studies that also show the negative impacts of ecotourism.

There are some news about the possibility of opening 33 new roads in Taman Nasional Kerinci Seblat (TNKS). Knowing both the need from the local people to have a better access and the rapid destruction a new access (not to say 33!) would bring, I wrote this article combining my experience as a young architect in the forest and the recent fact. It is written in the series of recognizing passion, opportunities, and luck. This one is about "Recognizing the opportunity that was lost in the forest". It is about my failure to take my chances with WWF Indonesia in the forest of TNKS, but it is actually dedicated towards the new generation to take a better stand for the rainforests. It is also about the opportunities to develop our forest as economic valuable object, we could loose it if we are not act wisely now!

We do need creative and bright young people who can keep their idealism to work for the benefit of the forest and its people. I hope some readers will be inspired to share their thoughts (and hopefully for young schoolers to make them interested in this matter too!). I do hope that readers from the government office can try to make better coordination between their offices and the NGOs.

Kesempatan Adalah Gairah Menghadapi Tantangan!

Thursday, 17 January 2008

Some issues

Citizen reporting and bridge blogging are actually quite the same work load. In reporting perhaps we do need to tackle current issues and hard news, but the objectivity and presentation clearness should really be taken into account for both citizen reporting and bridge blogging. It is really different with having an offline personal diary.

I did a piece of writing about Soeharto, the former Indonesian president who is now lying sick in the hospital. I'm trying to write about "forgiveness". I think as a human being it is good to forgive, but as a citizen perhaps we do need to seek for the law settlement in order to start respecting the law as the base of a democratic country. A fellow blogger (not an Indonesian friend)was helping me editing it and I found out that I might get some misinterpretation from people who do not know about Indonesia. I need to be able to present short but clear explanation to my views in written, I hope I could rephrase the document before uploading it here (or perhaps I won't up load it online). Background information is also very important on an article that would be presented for readers. In my personal diary (offline) I feel free to write any note because I'll be the only reader.

I could also get misinterpretation from my English composition. There are times when editors or readers could misunderstood some words or sentences and get the wrong ideas of my message. So writing an online diary (blog) and report (cit-J) in English should be handled cautiously, having a helping friend to show us how readers will see it is really helpful. That is why editorial for international citizen journalism website can play a very important role in developing the quality of citizen reporting.


It is also important to note that translating a language is not only a translation in literary speaking, but there is also a close relation with its cultural background. Indonesian national language is my mother tongue. I've also been speaking the Makasarese dialect in my parents' home. So English language is actually the third language that came into my life. I studied German language for three years in my Senior High School, but it seems that the French language that I had been learning in the French Cultural Center(CCF)is more fascinating to me. Why? Because the teachers in CCF taught me the language in a package with the culture.

Naturally, I think writing in Indonesian language is easier than writing in English. Yet, some friends said that my articles in English have nicer composition than my article in Indonesian language. Are they?! Perhaps it is because I use to read local newspapers, but I'm not use to read English daily (When I was still subscribing to the Jakarta Post-JP- I found most of their news similar to the daily Kompas. Now JP has changed). I am more accustomed to the Readers' Digest in English language. That is probably how I got my "formal" language in my Indonesian articles and a better choice of words for my English articles.


I found the news from a printed daily Kompas about the Last Post from a US' blogger who died in Iraq. I'd like to note Andrew Olmsted's remark "But for those who knew me and feel this pain, I think it's a good thing to realize that this pain has been felt by thousands and thousands (probably millions, actually) of other people all over the world. That is part of the cost of war, any war, no matter how justified."

Those who suffer the most in the war were usually the innocent and vulnerable citizens, those who can only dream to have a normal life to enjoy the short term period of living on the earth. Physical war and Psychological war are both killing people. The second can also be killing spirits, and it is even worse than death. Racism and religious militancy are things that I consider grouped into psychological war.

Wednesday, 9 January 2008

Catatan Jurnalis Warga Hari Ini

A citizen reporter's note of the day.

translated version.

Yesterday night I've got a very important lesson from wikimu.com. An article, taken from the daily Warta Kota, was published five months ago by Wulan Noviyanti in wikimu. Suddenly after five months online, yesterday (January 5th, 2008) the teacher from the mentioned school upload his protest.

I am interested in this matter because of two reasons. First, it is related to educational problems, then because it is clearly showing the evidence of Vincent Maher's theory in epistemology when he wrote "Citizen Journalism is Dead". This article is not my views through the first reason, but mainly a note of a citizen reporter from the internet. (I prefer to use the word reporter than journalist, but in Indonesian language both can be translated into "jurnalis", RT)

In his writing that he upload in his blog in 2005, Vincent Maher forwarded a hard remark on Citizen Journalism. One fact that he mentioned is that the conventional media has temporary news, while the citizen journalist has persistent news, which means that it will be occurring again and again. He also stated that news as a product of the conventional media is a final product of a hierarchal job from a writer to the editorial. It can not be comparable to the mess product of a citizen with its fictional civic-minded wannabe journalist.

Steve Outing in his comment in Poynteronline is forwarding his confident that there will be a positive growth in this new media that employ the community readers' monitoring or editing.

Vincent Maher seems to continue blogging and observing the growth of citizen journalism.

When I post a piece of my comment here (see Old Media = Temporary Message, Vincent Maher was quick in responding. He stressed the danger of spreading false news over and over again.

Personally, as a writer, the persistency of a voice in the online media is the important aspect in the process of writing the fact. Active interaction from the citizen will become the watchdog of the news' fact while the internet as the medium will help spread it out quicker. Violation of creative right can also be more easily identified (also faster for some bloggers, as a technophobia I prefer relying on friends from the community).

There are a lot of journal and magazine in Indonesia which are not online yet, even for those online we might not have the time to read it all. With the citizen journalism (in this term I am referring mostly to wikimu.com, RT) where the citizen can also upload news from the mainstream media (honestly mention the source, RT), there will be more people to criticize the facts from the mainstream media.

As a citizen reporter I always try to look for the most suitable reference from the internet. Yet, even wikipedia is not always presenting the real fact. There is a note I found in the internet from a person who claimed his biography was written under false fact that is leading to an assassination of his character.

Steve Outing's post titled To Trust or Not To Trust Wikipedia could give us the picture of how to treat the information from wikipedia (or mostly all online interactive information, RT). The news as a public driven resource and the information might not be perfect. It will be under the development and critical eyes of the participated citizen.

Perhaps the persistent value of news is the different aspect between a blog and a citizen journalism website. A blog can easily deleted by the owner (except for the copied content by others!). There is always a possibility that nobody had read that content, at least that is the message I've read in some bloggers' T-shirt I met in the Indonesian national bloggers party. "Who care about your blog?". As a technophobia, I was surprised to see how fast Vincent Maher commented to my post. Meanwhile, in a citizen journalism website it would not be that easy to erase the content. Yet, comment and correction will definitely colored the online news (still in the context of wikimu, RT).

It seems to me that this new media has a very important place to the learning of democracy and the freedom of press. Citizen interact directly on how news are presenting. It is sure the news that we found worthy will only emerged if everybody who is working in it take the corridor of ethics. That is why I kept asking the professional journalists the ethical guidance, so that people are also aware of the journalism ethics.

New writers and senior writers can learn from each other. But the most important thing is to keep ourselves guarding our integrity. There is an Indonesian saying "karena nila setitik rusak susu sebelanga", because of a small mistake we can ruin all the good things we've done. The meaning can be very intense in the cyber world.

Dan Gillmor, whose name is closely related to citizen journalism, once told me that there are bloggers who write professionally and there are also professional journalists who did not serve their readers well. He also stated that people can differentiate a good journalistic product when one sees it. At least by holding to the basic principles of journalism we can expect to have a journalistic output.

I think he is right as we usually choose the mainstream media that we would like to hear or read according to their integrity in finding facts, and to our choices of topics.

Personally I think that citizen journalism as a new media is a very good instrument, it is up to our ability in using it to make it function and to make it last in the universe that becomes more global.

Citizen Journalism: an Experiment to a Better Media.

Citizen journalism has various terms. Some would call it participatory journalism; some other would rather use the word grassroots journalism. According to wikipedia, the free encyclopedia online, it is the act of citizens playing an active role in the process of collecting, reporting, analyzing and disseminating news and information.

In a more personal view as a writer, I see the term “citizen” as a reminder of the rights and obligations that we have as the citizen of a country and as the citizen of the global world. The internet era brought us to a wider scope of the citizenship. We are not only the citizen in term of legal papers but also the part of the “citizens” of the world.

According to Dan Gillmor, a former technology columnist who wrote the first blog at a newspaper website, citizen journalism websites is an experiment. The same interpretation came from Steve Outing, known for his eleventh layers of citizen journalism, when he had to close his Citizen Journalism website intended specifically for cyclists “The Enthusiast”.

There are traditional journalists whose being skeptic in the output of citizen journalism. Vincent Maher as an example, in 2005 he produced a paper titled “Citizen Journalism is Dead” in which he forwarded three deadly E’s in citizen journalism. They are Ethics, Economies, and Epistemology.

The participatory of readers has long been included in the conventional media. It could be presented either in a form of reader’s letters or in the presentation of news that is close to the needs of the media’s readers or audiences.

For the loyal readers of the Jakarta Post, this daily has gain a special place in their hearts also through its reader participation in your letters column. If we are now finding the comments in a blog or in a citizen journalism website as a direct participatory of readers, then more than ten years ago the Jakarta Post has already provided that kind of service. It was to no surprise if we encountered comments of readers commenting on other’s comment. There were even some familiar names that regularly sent their comments in Your Letters. That is the first layer of citizen journalism according to Steve Outing.

I clipped some letters (dated back to 1997) sent as the comments on an article about the deathly accident that happened to Lady Diana from the UK. It was also shown that the Jakarta Post as a part of an Indonesian local media which serves international readers had shown the participation of its readers as the part of the global world.

Vincent Maher, in his own blog, later in 2007 put more positive views on the trend of citizen journalism. Although he kept his skepticism, he admitted that citizen journalism is growing toward a better stand. Indonesia, after the first National Bloggers’ Party, seems evolving to widely accept the existence of citizen journalism. Mainstream media give more rooms for citizen’s opinions and started asking its readers’ view on certain topics.

Being a participant of a local citizen journalism website wikim.com, as well as an international citizen journalism website OhmyNews International, I can see how this “experiment” will give benefits to the world of journalism.

Citizen in term of a hybrid citizen journalism website are not exclusively for non journalists. There are also senior journalists who deliberately contribute their articles and gave examples of how to write in the internet media. The new generations are more and more inclined to the internet. The preference to get news faster and easier made them turn into the electronic tools. E-mails, online journals or magazines, and e-books are the new genre of information. This new generation who is more adapt to the fast changing technology are the main consumers and (at the same time) actors of citizen journalism.

Citizen Journalism is giving the citizen of the global world the media to express their views and a tool to learn democracy. While forwarding views, the interactive of web 2.0 make it possible for a reader to directly post a comment. Then differences between views can be seen directly and sometimes can also spark disputes. Heated disputes in the cyber world if handled wisely could in turn provide a better ground for democracy. People can learn how to read (to listen), how to comment, and how to take comments, and in the long run understand how to value others’ opinion.

Another benefit is probably to enhance the mainstream media itself. With the raising voice of citizen journalism, the mainstream media will have their own back up in voicing the main concerns in building a better world. One can not accuse the media of shaping their readers’ opinion because readers’ opinions are becoming its basic sources in developing ideas of articles. Then on his recent experience, the combination of citizen and mainstream media made Vincent Maher had to agree on the pleasant side effect it brought along.

Citizen journalism websites could also be the training ground for the citizen to put their opinions in writing, while the future journalists are able to exercise composing their pieces of writings. It could also be the sources of editorial of the mainstream media to look for new talents. Professional journalists are also getting their freedom to put forward their views out of the guidelines of their own newsrooms. Credibility as shown in other business was not given for free. It has to be gained through actions.

Oh YeonHo, a former journalist who founded a hybrid style of citizen journalism website Ohmy News in Korea, forwarded a notion that every citizen is a reporter. In this sense, citizen became a watch dog of the government as well as to the conventional media. The function has long been provided in limited column of readers’ letters, but now it is given a bigger and more universal space.

In October 2007, Oh Yeon Ho was awarded the Missouri Honor Medal for Distinguished Service in Journalis from the University of Missouri, Columbia. It showed that the school of journalism is taking his “experiment” with Ohmy News as something worth considering. Then in November Ohmy News has opened a citizen journalism school, another way to enhance the existence of citizens in journalism.

Hopefully with the rising of internet connections in Indonesia, there will be more and more Indonesian citizens involved in the global world of citizen journalism. While engaging more and more citizens into citizen journalism as shown all over the world, we can also hope that in the end process of this “experiment”, citizen journalism can avoid the trap of the three deadly E’s and will emerge as the mutual complement of the conventional media.

Yet, it is important for those involved in citizen journalism to keep on their idealism. That is the only way citizen journalism can function well as the complement of the mainstream media or the conventional journalism. Perhaps this is how we can have a better media in the future.

I prepared this for the Jakarta Post, but I did not hear any news from the editor since sending it after the New Year's celebration. This is not exactly what I would write for online readers, but it would save my time to just upload this one than editing it. Perhaps I'll do the editing later. In this recent week I've learn even more from the citizen journalism, the whole article should be totally rewritten to serve the online readers with newer facts.

Saturday, 5 January 2008

Old Media = Temporary Message

After five months, suddenly a comment appeared on the article of a teacher who hits his student and collapsed. It came from a teacher of the mentioned school. The school were testing its internet connection and they found this article. The teacher complained that the media is not always uploading the true story, so citizen should also be more careful in choosing news to spread out. He said that effect of the incident was made stronger in the media than it really was, the student was not collapsed. He even said that they have the verification letter from the student and his parents.

The article is a copy and paste article from the mainstream media.I think the contributor who upload that story wanted to share the news from the mainstream media that she found important. The message for us is clear: a teacher hits his student, he also teaches taekwondo (extra curricular).

A teacher should not do that to his student, a martial art sportsman would not do it either!

So Vincent Maher's theory that the old media brings temporary message is so true! Off course I knew it before, that is why I keep my clippings (for the forgetful me!). But the function of citizen journalism in Indonesia is really real. It brings persistent message, it helps the mainstream media voice out their views. Not all of the Indonesian media goes online, even those who goes online did not always put its readers' letters online!

I would always prefer an article of my own. It means that I would be presenting to the readers some facts I gathered through the mainstream media, or through another blogger, and add my own perspective. I think by doing that I'm also promoting the media or others' blog. Some other time, if I do have the chance to experience something important, then I can write about it too. Perhaps I am mixing the idea of blogging and the idea of citizen journalism. Let's join the experiment of those professional journalists!

Visit Indonesia, the Pearls of the Equator

Indonesia is welcoming the year 2008.

Bali is perhaps more famous than the name Indonesia. Michael Covarrubias called it the lost paradise. Lots of people dream to visit the beautiful Kuta beach without even realizing that the island of Bali is in Indonesia. Last month “polar bears” and “penguins” were also visiting Kuta Beach to ask people’s attention on the effect of the global warming and the climate change. Perhaps the UNFCCC meetings have also promote the name Indonesia to the global world.

Now, Indonesia is welcoming the year 2008 as its Visit Indonesia Year. It is time that more people know that Indonesia is not just Bali. There are lots of interesting places from Sabang (in the island of Sumatra) to Merauke (in the island of Papua). Indonesia, the pearls of the equator, has abundant of interesting cultural heritage as well as amazing natural biodiversities. It offers the modern urban lifestyle in the big cities, and the rich traditional lifestyles in remote areas.

Unfortunately the official launch of Visit Indonesia Year was at the same time with the visit of natural disasters. Floods and landslides visited forty-two cities in six provinces of Indonesia. Previous to the floods and landslides, citizens from Lampung, Sumatera were panicked due to a prediction of a big earthquake made by Jucelino Nobrega da Luz, a Brazilian soothsayer. An 8.5 Richter of earthquake is powerful enough to perform another tsunami. Three years are not long enough to get over the fearful feeling.

For those who believe in Chinese horoscope, the Indonesian independence in 1945 is associated with the rooster symbol. And the year of the pig in Chinese horoscope is not a suitable partner for the rooster. For some, that is their reasons for all the problems throughout the year. Personally, I prefer to see all the natural disasters as a warning for us to take more concern over our environment. And off course it would be nicer to face better days in the coming year.

The year 2008 is also the centennial celebration of Indonesian National Awakening Day. 1908 was the birth of Budi Oetomo, the first step toward the awareness of being a nation. It would also be the year of preparation to the next democracy party, the presidential election in 2009. Perhaps that is the reason behind the tourism slogan for Visit Indonesia Year 2008 “Celebrating 100 years of the National Awakening”. I do hope that in this celebration we are also enhancing the national slogan “Unity in Diversity”.

Indonesia consists of more than 17,500 islands, with more than 500 local dialects and languages. The diversities are the challenges in managing it as a big country. But in these diversities lie the extraordinary attraction of Indonesia as the pearls of the equator. Some pearls are beautifully polished; some others are still hidden behind its shells. Uniting all these pearls into a beautiful jewel is in the great task of all Indonesians. In the celebration of the awakening of nationalism in the heart of Indonesians, we hope that we can reveal the beauty of these pearls. Within the spirit of the national awakening we are hoping to be able to provide enjoyable visits to Indonesia.

Big cities have the traffic problem, but they are also offering a lot of urban attractions. The diversities of urban environment are offering a lot of choices. In Jakarta for example, we can have variety of choices. For accommodation, the choices are the backpackers’ hostels in jalan Jaksa to the five stars hotels with international brand names. The same goes for shopping, from the people’s market in Tanah Abang to the first class shopping malls. For leisure activities there are lots of international standard designed golf courts, modern to traditional spas, historical sites, museums and cultural events.

Sumatera offers a beautiful mixture of the mountainous scenery with the serene scenery of the sea. The rainforests in Sumatera and Kalimantan are the hidden pearls that need special attention not only to preserve the rich biodiversity in the forest, but also to empower the local people with ecotourism. It would need political support to boost the economic development without sacrificing the local people and their environments.

Indonesians call their motherland as “tanah air”, the land and the water where they belong. Two third of the archipelago is the sea water, so Indonesia has an abundant treasures under the sea. The eastern parts of Indonesia are also famous for its wonderful under the sea living biodiversity. Maritime tourism is also a fascinating offer for those who loves diving and snorkeling.

Handicrafts are always the beautiful token from a vacation. The Indonesian rich culture of traditional textiles also gives choices from batik to ikat weaving clothes. Each region has their specific traditional design implemented in their special varieties of designs. A traditional top from bamboo will also serve as an interesting token for children. Puppets and masks are also among the interesting token to enrich an interior of a home.

The internet is now bridging the world closer. With the internet visitors can plan their voyages easier. There is variety of choices awaiting, from the quiet vacation in the village to the adrenaline challenges like rafting or gliding. In the varied diversities of Indonesia, you can find something uniquely for you!

I prepared this one for OMNI, but I did not even share it with the editor. Perhaps I do not want to invite people to come to the place where the environment is now showing their anger. I tried to be very objective though!

I've posted the previous blog about the guardian of time, and I think it would be nice to show the conflict between welcoming people to travel (using the air travel) and the need to have more visitors to empower the country's financial situation.

Sang Penjaga Waktu

I am going to help the Mexican Embassy for its photography exhibition. Some of the Indonesian Heritage Volunteer guides are going to help guiding in the exhibition. We were briefed by Mr. Alva in the museum. What a rich culture! It was also wonderful to hear the myths and legends.

Soon afterwards, I was digging more stories of ancient Mexico from the cyber space. There are so many stories around the Myth of the 5th Sun.

This article is addressed to the reader of wikimu so they can visit the exhibition during their week-end. In the article (which I now considered need a bit of grammar editing) I was talking about the guardian of time, the theme of the exhibition. When searching about the legends and myths from the Mayan and Aztech, I found an article in (perhaps) a blog. The writer calculating the calendar system and found out the end of the 5th sun is going to be the year 2012.

Then suddenly I read Peter Hincliffe’s article in OMNI titled “Global Warming, Boring-Boring”, there he stated that “The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which shared the Nobel Peace Prize with former US Vice President Al Gore, warns that we have just eight years left in which to save the world from the worst effects of global warming.”

So the scientist gave us longer time to live!

I am not keen on counting the end of the world, but it is astonishing to see how the ancient ancestors of the Mexicans made a calculation system that produce a final answer that is so close to the modern scientific approach.

I did not really pay attention to the scientists warning of time. All I care about is the existence of the environment and the comfort of its people. I am not afraid to face the end of the world as long as I am not the one who make it happens (yet, I do contribute…don’t you?!). But… off course it would be nicer to know that my offspring can have a longer chance to live on!

Peter Hinchliffe is also mentioning about the global travel. It’s a real conflicting and challenging situation. Without the global air travel, the tourism industries will be out of work. Then our Visit Indonesia Year 2008 will not gain the expected visitors.

Conflict..conflict…conflict…how would we overcome this? How should we overcome it?

Be a good citizen!

Claire answered my curiousity. She deleted her blog because she doesn't want to waste her time over the blog and neglecting her real world. It was a pity as I like her blog, and I did learn a lot of journalism stuffs over there.

I am going to continue blogging. It helps me keep my writing spirit. I rarely write my own diary lately. Luckily with the existence of citizen journalism (websites and blogs) I write again... Personal diary will be easier to write because I will not offend anybody. But having an online diary of a citizen reporter made me more responsible in presenting my views. It pushed me to be more objective. It urged me to dig more facts!

I am not a real fan of mailing lists because I need a lot of time to read all that letters. I found out that community of bloggers are more interesting than mailing lists. Yet, some good views are also presented in mailing lists.

Being a citizen reporter is a bit tiring and expensive! It is really difficult as we do not know our readers. The global world is so varied. Our choices of words can easily be misunderstood by others. Our cultural differences can also made others misunderstood our intention. The readers' level of education and their level of interest and knowledge in our country are also varied. Expensive, because we have to cover all the expenses and providing our time in presenting good news. Yet, it does help to keep the idealism. Citizen Journalism is something important, too important to die away. I hope I am in the process of gaining the definition of being a citizen reporter in my life!

Starting these recent days of the new year with some reflections, I think the most important thing to do is to be a good citizen! Then we can help the government to be a good government in our own way. I can not help them with financial theories or actions, but perhaps I could help them see how citizens need their actions. I can not help them researching as a researcher but I can help them point out things that perhaps some researchers had done but were kept in the dark! Everything should begin from a small step! Just like a baby, we should be trying hard to take our stand, then try hard to make our first step, then we are able to walk...the last in that process is jumping!

Friday, 4 January 2008

New Year...new year

This New Year was not really a happy moment. Indonesia was struggling with floods and landslides. I've been preparing an article for Ohmy News, but I don't have the heart to upload it.

Benazir Bhutto was shot. That's terrible. I've always interested in her, as she reminded me of Megawati, Indonesian ex-president. Their fate as the daughter of a charismatic father, their destiny to join in the political world, and their spouse's effect in their political careers.

Another sad story came from my fellow blogger Claire. She has deleted her blog. Her blog gave me a lot of journalism guidance. I can see the process of her taking journalism into her life.

I recently found something interesting in Vincent Maher's blog. A note from a blogger Ncobo. I think I've got the similar feeling in the first press conference I've attended. Not because I am not into it, but mostly because I will be more enjoying myself with other participants of the seminar watching the welcoming dance. Yet, there will be a good point to come in the press conference so as a citizen I can see if the media is also working. How many media coverage, and how they will present the news to their readers.

I usually saw some reporters came into a seminar, taking all the papers, interviewing their targeted persons then disappeared from the scene. Or, they sometimes came exactly at the moment of lunch! Then news of the seminar will be presented in their own interpretation (from the press release). OK, let's take it in a more positive way, they were not working on news about the seminar...they only came to meet that particular persons. Or perhaps they've got more than one story to cover that day!

Recently I feel more into blogging than into reporting. Reporting in an objective point of view can not be easily done if I am not really into it! Blogging makes me freer in commenting, freer with the length of writing, etc. A citizen reporter working on hardnews, perhaps Han Na Young's remarked should be remembered "One or twice is OK, no more than that!"

Yet, sometimes a citizen reporter should also be needed take his/her place to remind the mainstream media to take some issues into their consideration.

OK let's the new year begins!

Keberanian Mengejar Gairah

You've got to be brave enough to follow your passion. Brave to face the difficulties, brave to stand for the negative consequences in following your passion. I should need more time to translate it all, but most off all I'd like the reader of wikimu to know that success should be related to their own passion. And I'd like them to consider another kind of success, not only the success through material way of thinking!

Butet Manurung got the title Woman of the Year 2004 from ANTV in 2004. Then she was also included in Asia's heros by Time Asia Magazine. Something that she gained through the bravery to follow her passion. Without passion she would not stand all the cultural shocks when living with the people of the Forest, she would not even be there in the first place. Following this idealism she would not value her success with dollars (for her own pockets), but perhaps dollars can not buy that happiness!

Where is your passion? Find it and go struggle for your own success!

Saya Senang Mendengar Dongeng…

I always like story telling, most of all is the autobiography! Boediardjo's book asked the reader to follow how a man who serves the era of Soekarno and the era of Soeharto revealed his story.

I found a lot of interesting subjects in this book. Not actually a writer's way of story telling, but the content revealed so many humanistic facts. Politic plays important roles on everybody's life, but life is not only black or white!

I've noted the most important aspect for wikimuers, conflicts will always be presented. Resolving the conflicts wisely can make Indonesia a real big country. It would need the whole citizens to make it true!

Story telling is not always followed by the conclusion, we can made the conclusion after hearing several stories. There is when objectivity can really be exist!