Monday, 25 January 2010

The Blind Side, Sandra Bullock and The Golden Globe Awards

It is good to hear that Sandra Bullock got her Golden Globe Award through her performance in The Blind Side. I was actually impressed by the way she acted out the character of Leigh Anne Tuohy. Her acting made me wonder about that mommy character in the real life. It's really amazing to read that the film was based on a real story. This film made me even more curious to read the book, Blind Side: Evolution of a Game (by Michael Lewis).

After I saw the film, I had some notes in my mind. First, I wondered how Leigh Anne was able to do all her beautiful job at the same length of time as mine. I did not see any helper in the film, but she managed to keep the house clean, her children and husband happy, and she was also working as an interior designer who also had social activities. The most memorable moment of the film is when she came back and said to the leader of the gang "whoever threatens my boy is threatening me..." Oh, she had the nerve to come back and say it out aloud. That's a bit unimaginable for me, but it was really inspiring. She has shown how to show a character, how not to show any sign of weaknesses.

Then, I also like the moment she were hesitated about their way of influencing Big Mike to go into the family's old school. That a universal motherly thought as we've always been wondering to give the best for our kids, but in the process we would perhaps try our best to persuade them into the one we thought is the best (through our own perspective, not theirs).

And I was also touched that she didn't bother the IQ test, but instead try her best to help Big Mike to get his scholarship. I was impressed that she used his ability to protect to gain him his confidence in the game.

Actually I like the film. Not only Sandra Bullock's part of action, although she is the strongest character in that film. I like seeing the film because it has something about education. It is so nice to see how teachers and parents (and family too) worked together with the boy to achieve his best. I wonder if we can have it here in Indonesia.

My other impression is that the Tuohy family had an established life, they can afford to take care of another additional member of the family. Yet, I knew by intuition that even if the situation was not as presented in the movie, the family would still try their best to help others.

I watched the film with my children, I hope they can take their own lesson from that film. I know that it does need time to process it in their mind. In the meantime, there is one remark from my eldest son (which is not really really showing that he grabbed the other lessons), "Why don't we have a public washing machine like that? Isn't it a big idea to provide a self-laundry like that here?" I said that we are too lazy to do it ourselves, we'd like to have it done. My husband answered him that we are not having the culture of preserving public property. Yet, we are sure that the time will come when we are depending more on machine like that.

Yes, we are moving bit by bit to the western standard of life. If generations before us didn't really bother strangers to come as a guest to the house, perhaps now we (Indonesians) are more selective. This film is also reminding us how to use our heart in judging a situation. Two thumbs up for the film, the actors and actress, and the Golden Globe Awards' jury.

Saturday, 23 January 2010

Scrambled Thoughts on Citizen Journalism

I've got a lot of things in my mind, but I don't really have the time to write it out. So, perhaps it is the same reason of those professionals who are not writing out their voices. It's not because they don't really care or they don't want to communicate with others, but because they are already busy with their own daily life.

A fellow blogger, Lily Yulianti Farid, who founded the citizen journalism website "" said in Pesta Blogger 2009 that those involved in citizen journalism need to be techno savvy. I would rather say that we do need to be internet literate. After that, we should also be willing to share news to the world. Yet, it is so true that new media needs deeper knowledge than being internet literate. I found in "Teaching Online Journalism" lots of new knowledge about sharing in the internet. It is really clear that journalists have to go further on the exploration of making the most out of the new media.

Lily wrote in her blog that in spite of using the term "citizen journalism", it would be better fitted in as "friendship journalism". Gina Chen said in her blog post "Journalism's relationship with social media has matured" that she's definitely agree that social media has made news and political involvement more accessible to everyone, particularly to young people. I'm thinking that way too. Winarni's book “Makassar dari Jendela Pete-pete - catatan seorang pengguna jalan” is written while she was on her way to graduate from the architectural study in the University. Citizen journalism, when used wisely, can help young students to discover their passions. They can explore more as they have more free time than the older generation who have more obligations (of course older generation can still be amazed of their "newly found" passion or perhaps "fogotten" passion).

News were surrounding me, and only those that I put into writing came into my blog (which also made them written memories, others are only photos and notes in my computer). It's not that other events weren't important, but one doesn't have time to cover all those interesting stories. That's why I love citizen journalism websites, in term of sharing news; unimportant news for the mainstream media, or a slightly different point of view from the mainstream media. Even if I didn't write it as soon as it happened, I can still write about it later on through different way of presenting it. It would even be better if other contributors had something to write to fill in the emptiness.

If I don't write about Haiti, it is not because a lack of concern. It's only the matter of lack of time to write. Having facebook and twitter would perhaps a good solution for certain people to share their two cents.

Professional journalists who blog would find that blogs are helping them to reach out for their readers. They are no more dependent on mainstream media as their outlet, and they can still publish their stories (which took their time and perhaps also their financial support in composing the stories, which are too precious to keep under the desk) when their article were being rejected by the mainstream media. Blog readers can also be their supporters to voice out the truth.

I think I still have more wrinkled thoughts on citizen journalism in my mind. Citizen journalism is still evolving, I just hope that it will grow up for the better of the world's communication.

The painting has a life of its own. I try to let it come through (Jackson Pollock). Citizen journalism has also a life of its own. I try to be a part of its colourful life...

Friday, 15 January 2010

"Abad Bapak Saya" and the spirit of netizens

Last Thursday, 14th January 2010, I was blessed with a chance to attend a workshop with Geert Mak. He is a Dutch writer who wrote the book "De eeuw van mijn vader" which was translated into "Abad Bapak Saya" (The Century of My Father). The Indonesian book launched last Thursday in Erasmus Huis. The chance to meet the author is not the only blessing, we were also presented with a copy of the book...for free! What a blessing! (An example of a good day said a friend, Krismariana. There, I've met friends who are also contributors to and another friend that I previously met in Pesta Blogger 2008, and also made new acquaintances). The Dutch edition was first published in 1999, and after ten years it is now accessible in bahasa Indonesia.

Geert Mak said that he was never in his wildest dream imagine that his book will be presented in bahasa Indonesia for Indonesian readers. Yet, as his story covered a part of his parents' life in Indonesia made that book an interesting book for Indonesian readers. His way of presenting it together with the world's history is another interesting aspect that would make it a nice source of knowledge on history.

I was really fascinated with the enormous "treasures" of old letters and pictures that he used in his book. I wonder how long it was for him to collect and rechecked all those facts. Actually I came to the workshop because I was still thinking about my grandmother's biography. At the moment I'm actually stop doing anything on that case as families seemed to have an objection on me continuing it. Various reasons are behind that objection. My mother objected it as she feels that I'm going to spend more time on that book and neglect my children. My aunties perhaps think about the private content (which of course is possible to be edited). I'm also afraid that there is a frightened feeling of being exposed as a part of Chinese Indonesians. My family were so widely distributed that we are no longer belong to a certain part of Indonesia, but Indonesia itself. For me, I'm Makassarese even if people would not accept it as I'm also Chinese Indonesian. Through personal process and the help from the era of Reformasi I am now able to accept my own background. Writing this book is kind of reminding ourselves about our I think it is so sad that I've got to "forget" that book.

Based on my own lack of knowledge about writing a personal memoir that employed a lot of historical facts, I asked two questions:

1. Did you create this book basically from your own memory and enriched it with other inputs, or were you starting from your journalistic research and enriched it with personal memories?

2. It seems that you've got great support from your family in writing out this book. I wonder if there were members of the family who objected the idea of writing it down. How would you deal with it?

Actually half part of my questions was answered when Mak answered previous questions, so the answer that I write here is not exactly the answer that he gave me. I posed my questions so that I could get more technical guidance. Here, I combined his answer with his previous answers that would go inline with my questions.

Mak clearly stated that he started the book as a journalistic experiment, an experiment of writing a readable book of Dutch history at the era of his father. In the process it would also serve to create understanding between generations. Younger generation could read what was happening at that moment which prompted the older generation to act out their history. History always moves. Every generation has their own questions on history. He tried to write it out to give more clarity to his readers. The story teller in his book is the writer (Mak himself), but the experience that he described belong to the point of view of his parents. His own memory came a bit later in the book as he entered his age of understanding what was happening. He mixed memories and history but he stressed the fact that he rechecked all the data from the letter, and he only wrote dialogue if he was really sure that the dialogue happened (verified). He was very lucky as his grandfather (a school teacher) kept all the letters that were helping him in his research.

For the second question he answered me that he was not ready to write it out until fifteen years after his father passed away. He also sorted his facts, and then put only those related to the history (or his book). Yes, I think being a part of the family will help him sensible enough to sort which details are for public, which weren't. Glad that he published the story!

One important lesson I've learned that day is the description of a journalist. He said that a journalist never write about himself. I think it is the essential part that differentiate blogging and citizen reporting. Blogging seems easier as it conveys only messages from the blogger (the writer), it can touches various aspects of life...mostly aspects that are closer to the writer's life. Yet, it's not really that easy as you've also think about your personal boundaries. Mak was able to write the book after his parents passed away. Reporting is more complicated as we've got to check and recheck information, we've got to visit and do some interviews if needed. Then from the huge data that you've had in your hands, you've got to slim it down and present a readable and understandable piece of writing. Yet, your personal life is safe untouched...

Mak also mentioned about the vanishing of letters as telephone and short messages took up its place in exchanging news. Then, I think that is the hole where bloggers can fitted in. Our news will be the treasure for the generation in the next century.

Blogging is not journalism said Gina Chen in her blog "Save the Media", and actually during these three years of blogging I've kept asking myself about the term "citizen journalism". I came to blogging through citizen journalism websites, but that is not why I would like to see citizen journalism websites continue to exist as a counterpart of professional journalism.

Why "citizen journalism" is also important in the process of blogging? Or why we do need it for the journalism itself? In my case it is basically due to the spirit of journalism. Journalism tried to see things objectively. If we are trying to blog within the corridor of journalism, then we're going to see "things" objectively. For me, it also helps me to be more curious on what is happening around me. It helps me to see the reaction of readers, or how a certain matter can be viewed through different point of views. When writing for a newspaper or a newsletter, you are aware of your readers' type. Usually writers made their own research to find out the background of their readers. The internet has widely spread readers, so it will need double work to explain things to readers (who don't really know, or may be never even imagine a bit about your country, or your culture).

One great example came from the workshop with Geert Mak. One editor asked Mak how to handle different facts in a book. The example is Indonesian Independence day, she was editing a book which stated the Indonesian Independence day is December 27, 1949 (the formal soverignty was transferred to the United States of Indonesia; term taken from Encyclopaedia Britannica) while for Indonesians the Independence Day is August 17, 1945. Mak answered that professionally she could call the writer asking about it, or add footnote (as she already did).

Another participant asked Mak if he was also avoiding to state the exact date of the Indonesian independence as he did not wrote down the date 17. Mak answered that question by underlining that he was not aware about not writing the complete date, and he added that he wrote it for the Dutch readers...where the symbolical meaning of the date is not significant. He would like his book readers to judge his stand for Indonesia by reading the whole book.

It is a coincidence (or perhaps not?) that the Jakarta Post's opinion column published that same morning presented an article "RI's Indeoendence Day: A forgotten piece of history". It is a scholar's perspective over a seminar about Indonesian independence movement which was held at the Central Museum of Utrecht, the Netherlands. Perhaps it was why that questions came into the workshop.

In the section of the Museum Volunteer Tour Guide of the Indonesian Heritage Society, we've once faced that kind of problem. A Dutch lady mistakenly cited the wrong date of Indonesian Independence. I forgot how we found it out, either one of her visitors complained and she reported in, or the visitor reported it formally. It was decided that to be professional every volunteer tour guides should honored the date used by the Indonesian government. No prejudice, we worked it out peacefully...

The question in Mak's workshop made me wondering about history lesson. It was explained by the moderator (I forgot his name) that now history is not an obligatory subject. So, only those who took the subject would be better informed about the history of the Dutch-Indie period.

Actually I would like to hear more about it, as we (Indonesian) are going to face the same problem about how to put East Timor in our history books. Younger generations will have different way of seeing things as perhaps my father's generation or even from my generation. That is how I see blogs and the product of citizen journalism websites are functioning, as a bridge to cross, a place to clarify prejudices, and also a way to differentiate between objective views and subjective views.

The spirit of netizens is sharing and communicating. As a reporter I do hope that we're going to bridge misunderstanding between generations and between nations. As a blogger I'm letting out my piece of thinking and put it together in the universal cyber storage to be "the treasure" for the next century. I'm still not sure about the term "citizen journalism" as I'm always preferring the word "citizen reporter" than "citizen journalist", but I do hope that writing netizens are going to make the world better!

Friday, 1 January 2010

Happy New Year...Welcome 2010!

I haven't done my yearly reflection yet. Since I joined citizen journalism websites I used to write a reflection note at the end of the year. Yet, this year is another case.

I did write about "Hari Natal" for the Indonesian Heritage Society's Newsletter. I also received a short e-mail comment for that writing so I intended to upload it here on Christmas day, but I forgot. I've got a lot of things packed in my mind.

The children and I were busy preparing our choir's performance for the fourth Advent Week. My eldest would also play his guitar in the two songs specially prepared by the children (their first time joining the adult in the church's choir).

December 26, I went to see my obgyn, and got the news that I should go through an examination to see if I had endometrial hyperplasia. December 28, I went through the procedure and took a day to rest in the hospital.

December 30, I went with my parents and my boys to the nearby mountain (not really far, it is only in Cisarua, about an hour drive from my parents' house). Actually I would prefer to stay at home, but the twins asked me to come along with their "please...please...please mom!" that could not be rejected. This year my husband can't join us as he was still engaged with his work in the city.

I would like to write about Gus Dur the minute I heard that he passed away, but the electricity was off through the evening, and was still on and off at night (I managed to post my comments tough!). The internet connection is not always available, and my three boys are my competitors to enter the cyber world.

While my parents and my children were enjoying the fireworks that beautify the night scene at the mountain, I was fast asleep...
Now, they are all gone to bed, and here I am...writing my blog (finishing several unfinished posts and some other new posts...yet, there are still some in the draft box). We also lost Frans Seda, a politician and also an important Catholic figure (December 31), but it seems that I should try to go back to bed now...

My resolution for 2010? Keep writing, be a better mother and a better person...

Thank you God for the new year 2010, please lead us into a better year, help our nation to stand up and grow again, help the world to reach a better communication...
I hope we are all going to stand up for the sake of our mother Earth, and to share Your love with all Your creations.