The Jakarta Globe has been interesting to watch since its birth in 2008, beginning with an idealism to start a quality newspaper against a trend of dropping readership in printed dailies.
Unspun was skeptical of the paper’s success from the start, a view that won him few friends in the startup paper then. But Unspun began to have a kinder view of the paper after it hired veteran journalist Bhimanto Suwastoyo from AFP to be the managing editor. Bhim, apart from being a friend, is known and respected in journalism for his knowledge and his management and training of young journalists.Together with veteran journalists David Plott and Lin Neuman, they had a team who were capable of putting out a good paper.
The Globe then had a good run, and at one point seemed a better paper than the established The Jakarta Post.
Then things began to slide.
The paper was using too much money and they began to lay off its editors. Ithit a new low when it ran an editorial on Lady Gaga. It was around then that Unspun, who had switched subscribing from the Post to the Globe, switched back to the lesser calamity.
The rest is history. More journalists were laid off and The Jakarta Globe accelerated in its sad and slow decline. Today it is a parody of a newspaper especially with its ridiculous new format. It is pathetically thin and its layout is meant to mimic its website, with photographs and news in panels tiled on a page. In other pages its mostly ripped off wires with the token “own reporting” from the Berita Satu Group. Apparently the remaining journalists there tried to tell the owners that it looked horrible and wouldn’t work but the bosses were in no mood to listen.
Part of the reason for this format is because the Riadys who own it think, not necessarily erroneously, that the future is online. That may be true but online or off, what ultimately marks the organisation as a news institution would be the quality of its journalism. There is little evidence that the online version today matches the quality of its stories in the printed version’s glory days.
The Jakarta Globe’s printed version today looks so miserable that it might as well be dead. Anyone who cares about journalism would want to put it down for humanitarian and compassionate reasons. No paper that once gave the leading English daily in Indonesia a run for their money should be allowed to continue to exist in such a zombie-like state.
Unspun’s been a follower of the Globe’s birth, rise and fall all these years and there’s not much point writing more about it except perhaps to catalogue the previous posts in this blog that charts a rough history of the paper that has ceased to exist, in roughly chronological order:
Perhaps as part of the pre-Ramadan rush, the Jakarta Foreign Correspondents Club has been very busy this week with its media luncheons, where it invites a prominent speaker to address the crowd and field questions.
On Monday it hosted Franky Sibarani, is the Chairman of Indonesia Investment Coordinating Board (BKPM) and today it hosted Trade Minister Rahman Gobel. What they had to say was meant to e interesting but Unspun found the side chatter among members of the audience to be even more interesting.
Monday was the first time that Sibarani addressed the JFCC and he did a decent enough, though not impressive, job delivering his powerpoint presentation on how the BKPM was going to attract more investments.
But when it came question time, his performance dropped several notches. He was tossed a softball question to start off with. The Wall Street Journal wanted to know how he was going to increase foreign direct investments into Indonesia. The answer was already in his powerpoint presentation and you’d expect him to answer it with ease: De-bottlenecking the business approvals process, cutting down on red tape, prioritising job-creating businesses etc.
But Sibarani instead looked troubled and gestured for his adjutant to hand him his man-bag where he’s stored his notes. With furrowed brow he kept the audience waiting while he looked through them and, seemingly not being able to find the relevant section, began muttering an unintelligible answer.
The foreign journalist next to Unspun wickedly remarked: “Franky doesn’t seem to be on top of his job.”. A bit unkind but not unjustified.The rest of Question Time went by with little change, questions met with hardly coherent answers.
In discussions afterwards among themselves, some members of the audience said that it may be a language thing. Maybe he was having difficulty expressing himself in English. Others said that while that may be forgivable, what was not forgivable was the fact that he had no command of the information concerning the agency in the first place.
The unforgiving ones also said that Sibarani was effectively the nation’s chief salesperson to foreign investors and as such it was unfathomable why the President would choose someone who has to struggle with his English to sell his country. They pointed out that past BKPM chairmen like Chatib Basri were all very savvy Indonesians who had no problems at all conversing and persuading others in English.
Trade Minister Rahman Gobel, on the other hand, approached today’s talk with much more confidence. He brought along a translator because he felt safer speaking in Indonesian to prevent misquotes. he also brought with him a sweet young translator who proceeded to fumble her translations due to lack of inexperience.
Her performance was so poor that midway through a former expert staff of the former trade minister Gita Wirjawan had to volunteer to translate to save the day. She was very clear and professional, although she had to work off from what the Minister said.
Gobel stressed in his talk that he slapped a bank on beer sales at convenience stalls because youths were buying beer from these outlets and getting drunk. So to save the future of Indonesia that lies with its youth he’s had to impose a ban on beer sales.
Asked during Question Time why he chose a regulatory ban as a solution to juvenile drinking, rather than enforcement of existing laws, he said lone convenience store attendants were often intimidated by four or five underage youths who wanted to buy beer. So a regulatory ban was the only way to protect them.
He also said that many of these store attendants were thankful to him for protecting them from intimidation. He knew that because of the many text messages that he’s received from them. Wow! Unseen thought: This Minister is a man of the people, even shop attendants know his mobile number and can text him.
Asked if he resorted to regulatory bans because he has written off the police and other enforcement agencies to do their jobs and prevent intimidation or manipulation vis a vis beer sales, chilli imports and rice imports, the Minister gave an answer that the members of the audience, including Unspun, was able to unspin.
The Minister also said something that must have chilled Big Tobacco to the bone. Asked why he clamped down only on beer when cigarettes caused more harm yet were freely sold at convenience stores, he replied that they would come around to putting it in order (he used the word tertipkan). Asked if that meant that he would ban the sales of cigarettes he stopped short of saying yes but that they would come round to regulating it.
The side chatter was also very interesting. One member of the audience complained that he did not understand the minister at all as the answers were rather confusing. A foreign diplomat looked very troubled and disturbed: “all this talk of saving the youth, protecting the nation and no apparent understanding of trade regimes and agreements…” she gasped.
There will be those that understand but Unspun thinks that sessions like these are extremely very useful as they give more people the opportunity to understand the thinking quality of of our Ministers, the strengths and shortcoming. By doing this the Ministers are giving us all a great opportunity to size up first hand the calibre of the Jokowi government.Isn’t democracy and open ministers a wonderful thing?
Unspun had the privilege to be invited to attend and to speak at the Asia Pacific Media Forum (APMF) 2014, a biennial gathering of creatives, advertising agencies, media houses, publishers and advertisers from huge brands. And what a privilege it was!
It was what a convention is supposed to be – meticulous organisation, an eclectic and impressive list of international and local speakers from government with one or two musicians thrown in to spice things up, world class creatives and specialists with insights to share about the developments taking place in measurement, analytics and technology.
Throughout the two-day convention the speakers were almost always on topic and did not, like it is so common in other seminars in Indonesia, engage in hard selling. They were all there to share their insights and thoughts on what’s happening in their respective areas.
The convention actually began on the eve of the opening, at a welcoming dinner for the almost 700 attendees hosted by tycoon Harry Tanoe from the MNC Group where everyone got a chance to mingle, catch up with old friends and make new acquaintances.
Unspun was there for only a short time because he had seen the stage where he and other speakers were to speak from, and the hall at the Bali Nusa Dua Hotel and Convention centre. The size and scale of the stage – think two giant screens and a humoungous stage where you can train for a half marathon on – struck fear into Unspun, who was normally nonchalant about rehearsals.
The sound system was fantastic though and the technicians supporting us were so helpful they saved Unspun’s presentation from disaster by offering to edit the videos in it.
The next morning and the opening ceremony started a little late with a keynote presentation from Ajaz Ahmed, the CEO and Co-founder of AKQA, a hot name in the creative community. Ajaz had founded the company when he as only 21 and bills itself as the “imaginative appellation of art and science to create beautiful ideas, products and services.” He talked about how to build a company in a time of great change and showcased some of their creative work. Unspun was more impressed musing how someone so young is able to persuade giant companies such as Nike and Red Bull to try out his ideas.
From there one speaker after another was introduced to the stage with a minimum of fuss. Just the name and their title and their topic, without the usual reading of their bios. Something for other conventions to learn here.
Unspun was the warmup speaker for lunch because of the overruns. I spoke on Social Media gone Wild, how wild social media can get where big brands are concerned. Sometimes it is a simple mistake they make or a wrong reaction to social media postings and they suddenly find themselves in a social media maelstrom. Unspun’s advice to the candidates was to incorporate crisis management practices when launching social media campaign. That way if things should go wrong the brand won’t shoot itself in the foot.
Unspun also said that an understated strategy in crisis-like situation, especially when social media – with its ephemeral and fleeting nature in involved – is to keep silent and not react prematurely.
Other speakers that day that impressed Unspun were Facebook’s Indonesia Country Chief Anand Tilak who spoke about the importance of using analytics in trying to make sense of the nation’s Facebook users, who are legion; Kudsia Kahar, the Chief Broadcaster of the The Star Group who spoke about how to deliver great content; and Executive Director and CEO of News Media Association Earl Wilkinson’s delivery on how Legacy Publishers and how they need to adapt for a brand new audience.
The day’s session ended with a rousing presentation from Abdee from Slank who delivered a touching and electrifying version of Salam Dua Jari and the sardonic Where are you Mr President.
Pumped up, the attendees then went for an Indonesian dinner hosted by the Kompas Gramedia Group. True to its nature guests were treated to something very Indonesian – lesehan style seating on the floor – and something modern JFlow’s R&B electronic/music.
The next morning started with Chairmon (sic)/Chief Creative Officer of DM9 Merlee Jayme who has so many awards it might take need another posting to complete them all. One intriguing idea that Unspun got out of her presentation was that there was nothing stopping the creative agency to come up with a product instead of an advertising or PR campaign idea.
Paramadina University Rector and the founder of Indonesia Mengajar next took to the stage with a heartfelt plea for Indonesians to be more involved in their country, no doubt presaging the Mental Revolution that Jokowi will try to implement when he takes power.
Next up with Eric Tohir in his capacity as President of FC Internazionale Milano, explaining ho his acquisition of the football club was also a way of projecting Indonesia’s newfound confidence onto the world stage.
This was followed by the Big Break, an regular feature at the APMF where several startups had five minutes each to pitch themselves to the audience. This year’s candidates were Iphonesia, Marbel, PicMix and Karamel.
Unfortunately Unspun had to leave the APMF at midday to catch a flight and therefore missed two great presentations – according to the Twitter feed that Unspun ws still abel to follow – in the afternoon: That of Bandung Mayor Ridwan Kamil and the legendary storyteller the CEO and Executive Creative Director of Hakuhodo Kettle Kentaro Kimura.
In spite of having to leave early Unspun had benefited so much by being at the APMF. It was a great place to meet people and network; it was very efficiently organised; the speakers and attendees were all taken care of very well; there were great speakers from within and outside Indonesia, and the convention was conducted entirely in English, something that would help this very Indonesian production reach international status soon.
And why not, because it was a world class production. Kudos to the organising committee led by Andi Sadha, Ricky Pesik (who sacrificed his birthday and celebrated it early on the second day of the convention), and Jerry Justianto. The convention had truly delivered on its theme of Connecting Deeper.
An intriguing piece by a Reuters columnist that posts the theory that BRICs have had their day and it is now the turn of the TIMPs – Turkey, Indonesia, Mexico , Philippines.
COLUMN-BRICs, move over. TIMPs are the new emerging market stars – RTRS
(The author is a Reuters contributor. The opinions expressed are his own)
By Conrad de Aenlle
LONG BEACH, Calif., March 28 (Reuters) – One day you’re a hot young thing and everybody loves you. Then suddenly you’re more mature, move a bit slower, and some hotter thing is threatening to replace you.
That cruel reality confronts the four large emerging stock markets known as the BRICs: Brazil, Russia, India and China. These erstwhile ingénues have struggled – the MSCI BRIC Index fell 6.5 percent in the 12 months through March 25 – while four smaller markets with an acronym of their own – Turkey, Indonesia, Mexico and the Philippines, the TIMPs – have excelled, recording gains ranging from 9.4 percent for Indonesia to 37.7 percent for the Philippines.
The TIMPs are blessed with rapid growth, as are many emerging economies. The International Monetary Fund forecasts inflation-adjusted increases in gross domestic product this year of 3.5 percent for Mexico and Turkey, 4.8 percent for the Philippines and 6.3 percent for Indonesia.
What made the TIMPs stand out to Bob Turner, who coined the term and is chief investment officer of Turner Investment Partners, a Berwyn, Pennsylvania, asset management firm, is that they possess qualities that should keep them and their stock markets expanding rapidly and profitably. These include favorable demographics and strengthening economies and political institutions.
“They have young populations, with a high number of workers to retirees,” Turner explained. “They also have infrastructure that needs to be built out and banking systems that are underleveraged.” He meant that individuals and governments are not overextended on credit, unlike in many mature countries, leaving room to borrow more to fuel growth.
But not every fast-growing small economy qualifies as a TIMP for Turner. He dismissed other countries that also have young populations and fast growth potential because they lack liquid stock markets, diverse industrial bases or adequate financial and legal systems.
As a people, Indonesians have become more and more hot-headed by the minute. It is actually something to be ashamed of as hot-headedness is one of the typical signs of being uneducated (thus not being able to keep one’’s cool).
Not only are we getting more hot-headed, it seems that we are also falling deeper into ignorance. Which is a shame, because there should be no more excuses for one to be stupid and ignorance seeing as there is almost no restriction on the information flow into the country, nor is there a shortage of ways for a person to educate one’’s self autodidactically (by ways of internet, television, books etc).
We have also become a nation that is stubbornly disrespectful to other nations, people who are different to us and also our own culture. And by our culture I mean our indigenous culture, not the one you see nowadays in Indonesia or television which is full of ignorant telenovelas, gossip shows and rich people/celebrities sporting their hedonistic lives on national television.
The upside of these traits is none, while the downsides are many. By being hot-headed and ignorant, we often miss simple truths and even more often we are easily provoked by the smallest of things. The most recent issue that has taken Indonesia like a storm is how our Malay brothers and sisters from Malaysia are ”thieves”.
We accuse them of stealing this and that from our culture to our cuisine, while in fact we are both Malay people sharing many of the same culture and cuisine that it’’s a little absurd (not to mention difficult) to claim which is whose and so on.
The embattled office of APCO in Indonesia may be in for more tough times.
Some time maybe as early as this week, said little birds to Unspun, APCO’s competitor in Indonesia Kiroyan Partners will announce a partnership with Vriens and Partners. Vriens Partners is headed by Hans Vriens, the suspender wearing, battered suitcase carrying former head of APCO Indonesia and APCO in the region.
After many years in Indonesia Hans relocated to Singapore about two years ago to start up APCO there as well as to head the regoin. But hand has not been a happy camper. Some birds say that he felt frustrated that his overbosses were too conservative and unwilling to embrace newer ways of communicating, such as using new media.
At any rate Hans has left APCO in not the best of terms and has started his own consultancy, Vriens and Partnership.
Of late both Hans and Noke Kiroyan, of Kiroyan Partners and formerly of Rio Tinto and Newmont and often mistaken for a Japanese, have seen potential synergies in a partnership. They both see lots of opportunities in indonesia and Hans can bring to the table his contacts while Noke can bring to the table resources, said the birds.
Both men also have another common link that bolsters the partnership. Noke’s daughter Natasha is currently working at Vriens and Partners. She remains a shareholder in Kiroyan and Partners where she was working until a few months ago when she departed for Singapore to follow her heart, said the birds.
This partnership between Noke and Hans is sure to pose stiff competition for APCO Indonesia, which is currently helmed by John Arnold, formerly of Ernst and Young. John, who retired from EY and then took up this job has not been having a restful time at APCO Indonesia as the firm has, so said the birds, been having some problems here and there.
Looks like John is in for exciting times, as the Chinese would say.
Update: The paper is to be called Jakarta Globe and it would be housed at the Aston, the group of apartments/office space owned by Lippo and which houses Globe Asia. It is also confirmed by Joe Cochrane himself that he will be the Deputy Editor
Having had a taste of the power and glory, real or perceived, from owning a business publication in the form of the Globe Asia, James Riyadi is now going full bore in setting up his new English-language business and general affairs daily. Nobody seems to know what the paper is to be called although some have speculated that it may be called the Globe Daily. At any rate let’s, for convenience sake, refer to it as Globe Daily.
The soon to be published paper has taken a half page advertisement in Kompas today announcing that is is looking for a chief political correspondent, specialist reporters in the fields of defense, the legislature, office of the president, environment and health and the Jakarta goverment and its related issues. In business it is looking for specialist reporters in finance, the capital market, infrastructure mining and natural resources, trade, labor and consumer affairs.
It is also looking for 10 general reporters, 5 lifestyle reporters, 2 sports reporters and 10 designersFrom its requirements it looks like James has learned from his mistakes at Globe Asia and has other people thinking about an interactive strategy to go with the paper. When he launched Globe Asia the people running it were so clueless they did not even think of registering a domain name or checked who were using http://www.globeasia.com (see here).
This time around the reporters, said the advertisement, will be required to file for the web and also do standup reports for the video component of the website.