Regular readers of Unspun will know that this blog takes interest in journalistic developments in Indonesia and elsewhere. The interest comes from Unspun having been a journalist for many years before he “sublimated” into a communications consultant.
Readers will know from the two previous posts that Unspun found the Jilbab Hitam issue fascinating since it involves several prominent names, the allegations of a putative ex-Tempo journalist and of extortion of well-known institutions.
That, however, was where Unspun’s involvement with the case ends. Ditto Maverick, the communications firm where Unspun works at.
It was therefore very surprising last Thursday night when the names of Unspun and Maverick started cropping up on Twitter. The head of a research firm in Indonesia (let’s call him Godot), who is also an occasional newspaper contributor and commentator on anything from politics to economics had insinuated that Maverick was involved with a corporation (let’s call it AA), whose name had been bandied about as the possible instigator behind the Jilbab Hitam posting in Kompasiana.
AA was supposed to be involved, so the rumour mill has it, because they wanted payback for a book claiming to expose questionable practices in the corporation.
Now, sometime during the last week or so a blogger, who had almost the same name as one of our employees (let’s call him RF) , had posted an opinion piece in a Detik.com blog criticising the book. In the posting the blogger had said that he was a student of a lecturer in University Indonesia who had also earlier posted a critique of the book in Kompasiana.
The detik.com posting sent Godot’s research juices flowing and somehow (presumably through something more sophisticated than a Google search, for he is, after all, a researcher) he came up with the allegation that Maverick and RF were in cahoots with AA to run down the author of the investigative boo. Without further ado Godot started to post Tweets about his suspicions.
As with most things that come up out of the blue, Maverick’s crisis management training has taught us to seek and verify facts before reacting rashly. So we methodologically called up RF’s personnel files and found out that unlike Godot’s insinuations, RF did not go to school in University Indonesia. We then asked RF if he had known the particular lecturer. Negative. Had RF written any opinion pieces and posted them on any blogs, let alone Detik.com? Negative. Curiouser and curiouser.
We then went on the next stage of fact-finding. Going to source is usually the most reliable means of arriving at the truth. So since Twitter seemed the communications channel of choice for Godot, we asked him a simple question : why did he think that the blogger was the same person as our employee RF, since it was a common name and a Google search came up with dozens of RFs. Why did he think our RF was the RF?
That’s when the Twitter conversation turned weird. Godot dissembled and never answered the question. That didn’t stop him from casting aspersions on us and the PR profession though.
Normally, we would dismiss Godot as a troll and ignore him but because this issue was emotionally charged among a community we are close to – journalists – we thought we needed to resolve the matter conclusively and give it a decent burial. In social media, anything that doesn’t get a decent burial can come back to haunt you.
So we asked Godot for a face-to-face meeting so that he can explain how he came to his conclusions and we can set the record straight. By then the Twitter exchange had attracted the attention of some prominent Twitterati, a few of whom are senior journalists. They felt it was a good idea and encouraged Godot to meet with us to clear the air.
In spite of all this willingness to engage though, Godot has not replied. If he felt that he was right there was no indication that he desired to get to the bottom of things. If he realised that he had been wrong there was no hint of owning up and an apology for wrongfully insinuating that Maverick was in cahoots with AA.
So we are now…. waiting for Godot
(Thanks @julianto_irwan for being our muse with the name)