Indonesia used to be a place where information is very difficult to come by in English. There were many pretenders to the throne like The Point and Indonesian Observer that could not muster the test of time and circulation figures and so The Jakarta Post became by default the main English-language source.
It was eithe the post or you had to pay private services from the of Castle Asia, Concord Consulting, Van Zorge and O’Riley to inform you about what is happening.
But over this past year things began to change. The Lippo Group, in their mysterious move to build a media empire started an English-language business magazine Globe Asia that seems to specialize on good news about the rich and the washed and compiling all sorts of lists lists about the rich and the washed as an apology for the innocuous and cozy men’s club journalism.
Then earlier this year they began setting up the Jakarta Globe, which is shaping up to be a 48-page all-color English-language daily. Unspun‘s actually got a sneak peek of the Jakarta Globe‘s office, located on the 7th (or is it 9th?) floor of the parking lot of Plaza Semanggi.
It’s quite an operation. The newsroom has space for about 120 people. The CPUs of the workstations are mini Macs and a “pod” where the editors sit and make decisions (as well as checking what Unspun‘s written about them) sits smack at the center of the room.
Unspun‘s also seen dummies of the new paper as well and it looks professionally laid out. Not the most exciting lay out but it is clean, structured and does the job. They are also supposed to have some fierce web and blogging strategy but Trish, a former Postie who’s now in charge of things pixilated, wasn’t in when Unspun was. The word is that the Jakarta Globe will publish on the 22nd of this month but Unspun thinks its probably after Lebaran before it can hit the streets.
But even as the Jakarta Globe gears up for production another source of news another player is also gearing up to join the fray of English-language information sources. It is KanalOne and this is their description of themselves. Strange choice of words for the opening line:
KanalOne is a to-be-born megaportal designed to produce fast and in-depth news and information in two languages, Bahasa Indonesia and English. Updated 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, this online media will creatively combine texts, images, audio, and videos, in covering national and international issues with a high journalistic standard. Besides using personal computers, you will also be able to access kanalOne via mobile phones or PDAs. We envision this media as a co-effort in building and enlightening our Nation through smart, sharp, balanced, and entertaining journalism.
Word is that Bakrie is behind the venture.
So now we have the Riadys and the Bakries being the news gatekeepers. It would be interesting to see how these two would-be media tycoons react to their news organizations covering events, such as the Lippo-Astro spat and the lapindo mud spill, where their businesss groups are involved.