A tale of two front page stories covering the Blackberry fiasco

Competition is a good thing. It allows us to compare the competitors and see which is better and which needs improvement.

No thanks to the very slack circulation department of The Jakarta Globe, Unspun did not get his Saturday paper delivered to his house until this morning. Unspun, however, is master at caging a free read and managed to get hold of a copy of the Globe’s competitor The Jakarta Post at a Coffee Bean outlet in FX.

Then my jaw dropped. I felt surreal reading the headline story on the front page news of the Post. I did not know whether to laugh or cry in anguish and frustration.

The day before dozens of people were injured when a queue for discounted Blackberry Bellagios turned ugly. Apparently hundreds of people turned up, they were not handled well and a crush occurred when the crowd was told that the Blackberrys had run out.

Unspun read the paper hungrily, expected to be informed how it happened, who had been injured, what the organizers had to say and how something like that could have been allowed to happen, you know basic journalism stuff called the 5Ws that you usually include in for hard news stories.

Instead Unspun was treated to the condescending opinions of a Singapore sociologist (no local sociologists to quote?) on the “mental underdevelopment” of Indonesia’s middle class.

Here’s a screen grab of the story or read the full story here:

Being someone with a full social life, Unspun went to do other things and did not think much about it until this morning when the Globe’s ever efficient circulation department delivered him Saturday’s paper.

There, on the front page, was actually a story with some decent reporting of the incident. See for yourself in this screen grab or go to the story’s link to read the full article.

This is all very intriguing so Unspun decided to do a bit of a count to see what the reporters from both papers have been up to.

The results are that to write that story The Globe‘s reporters interviewed:

2 Jakarta Police spokespersons, 2 customers, 1 Blackberry staffer and 1 security guard.

The fact that they were there was also reflected on what those in the journalistic trade call “color” – details that you can only observe if you were there  or if you were very good at cribbing- in the story. (e.g. “The rules have changed,” said Karim, who had been queuing since early Friday morning).

And the number of people interviewed for The Post‘s story: 1 non-local (Singaporean) sociologist.

So where’s the mental under development?




12 thoughts on “A tale of two front page stories covering the Blackberry fiasco

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  1. doesn’t anybody notice that the cop on Globe’s picture is holding the fainted chic’s left breast?!

    I know it has nothing to do with both articles, but come ooon!


  2. @Mikus: Nothing is missed by Unspun’s sharp eyes – especially when it was already discussed on Twitter prior to this posting. It looks like the Policeman is having a bit of fun but I wonder – if you were in a crowded, chaotic situation and had to carry a fainted person to a safer place, are you likely to feel amorous enough for a grope? He looks like he’s got a handful but are things what they seem?


  3. Hi Unspun… I read both the papers (for free of course, at my office hehe)…
    About that “Singaporean” sociologist… mmm, actually He’s an Indonesian, but he’s teaching at S’pore at the moment (he’s an old friend back in Bandung).

    But I do agree that in terms of news sources, that has been one of the main problems that Jakarta Post has today… If you read the paper regularly (just like I do), you will realize that they seldom use adequate sources to confirm their stories.
    Btw, I studied Media & Journalism for my bachelor degree. So I know that a news should have more than one source. Okay I graduated a long time ago, but I don’t think that condition has changed, rite???

    If you have time, you can check the “School Reunion” Story that Jakarta Post ran last Sunday (4th December 2011). There were 4 articles on that issue, but in one of them they only have one source (who already appeared in the other article as well): (http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2011/12/04/same-people-new-community.html)
    Is it very hard to get just one people who can comment on something like that? I mean, commeee ooonn… talking on his/her impression on “reunion parties” would be so easy… And that person in that article… she was already quoted a lot in the other article as well…

    Back to that RIM story, well actually, I know that Jakarta Post meant to make this “newspeg”-style story… the follow up of the event or a news that captures another dimension of the event (in this case: “the mentality of the middle-class etc etc….”). I know that print news nowadays want to provide different things than what online media offer. So maybe, Jakarta Post assumed their readers had read about the details of the story on other online media, so the paper needed to provide something else. But anyway, if this is even true, there would be no harm for Jakarta Post to dig the latest follow-ups on the incident itself, so the readers can get a broader/more complete information. Yes, some people might have read the news earlier on some local online media, but maybe Jakarta Post forgot that many of its foreign readers don’t read such media in Bahasa Indonesia, and that they rely greatly on English-language newspapers like JP or JG to get the latest information (even if that happened the day before).


  4. is this post have anything to do with an effort to gain a potential clients attention (RIM) from other PR Agency?… or is it just some sort of a sweet revenge to Jakarta Post’s refusal to change their content during the Citibank fiasco?…

    Pardon me for the blunt questions mr. Ong, I’m just trying to unspun the unspun.. 🙂


  5. Dear Saint,

    Thank you for being blunt. I appreciate the straightforwardness and its reasonable for you to pose such questions.

    The answer is no and no. If you look through the things I have posted all these years I have consistently commented on companies facing crisis-like situations and how newspapers cover certain stories. In the past I have sometimes criticized the Jakarta Globe (who, I must say took it well. One of the editors said to me that they needed outside input to ensure that they kept to the standards they wanted) and the jakarta Post, mainly because I read English-language newspaper more.

    And you’re welcome trying to unspin the Unspun so long as we keep to the issue and not resort to ad hominem attacks. What should be debated here is whether what I have written makes sense or it doesn’t.


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