Why Bjorka should worry the Government

The danger of hacker Bjorka to the Government lies not in the information he purportedly hacked and leaked. The danger comes from the reaction of Indonesian netizens to any news or posts about Bjorka’s antics.


Check out Twitter and other social media news feeds and typical reactions are support for Bjorka and criticism of the government. Bjorka is, to many, becoming a folk hero like Robin Hood or V in V for Vendetta.

Rightly or not, the netizens’ reactions suggest Bjorka is being seen as someone flipping the bird to a government that is engaged in Double Speak, authoritarianism and Thought Control. The stuff that folk heroes battle against.

The perception of their reactions may be skewed. Netizens are known for their groundswell of rage against any authoritative figure. They may represent only the modern day chattering classes and no one else.

This is not to say, however, that they do not have a legitimate reason to rage against the Government, a sentiment that is ironically fed by the Government’s reaction to Bjorka.

So far the Government has fumbled and sent mixed messages about Bjorka. The dismissed him as inconsequential and that he has not really hacked anything important. Yet they rail against him and seen fit to set up a high level data security task force to curb activities of Bjorka and other hackers.

The Government also fed the netizen’s sense of contempt for authority from mishandling its reaction to data security leaks. Information Minister Johnny Plate’s response about needing to keep OTPs secure only exposes what many perceive to be a normalization of stupidity and incompetence in the highest levels of office.

The fact that he has not been held accountable for this and many other gross mistakes and misstatements in the past is increasingly being seen as a normalization of impunity.

This is because these days almost no one in high office is being held accountable for anything, either through their own actions or for something under their watch.

Hence you have Ferdy Sambo running a mafia within the highest echelons of police and no one high is being held accountable. In other countries the Minister for Law and the Head of Police would have to resign for letting something like this happen under their watch.

The normalization takes place because their is no longer any effective political opposition. The media, already reeling from the onslaught from social media, is cowed and does not ask questions. Foreign journalists, those pesky foreigners who ask pointed questions, are not being issued permits to work here.

Just about the only avenue for proper dissent these days is on the internet. But even here, Big Brother is at work. The word “Buzzers RP” is used with fear and loathing by netizens because they are seen as the Brown Shirts of the elite to muzzle any criticism.

When all avenues for healthy criticism and dissent seem blocked and controlled, people like Bjorka become admirable.

In all the stories of folk heroes fighting against authority the pattern is always the same. Tyranny and control up to a point where everyone is fed up. They do not know what to do. Then someone emerges who can tweak the nose of the authorities.

The people love him, the authorities overreact and attract more hatred. They start making mistakes and drive more people to support the Bjorka figures.

Then an idea of resistance is sown and from there it grows and grows.

Will this happen in Indonesia? Unlikely, but never say never….

RIP Jakarta Globe (Printed Version) 2008-2015

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 Jakarta Globe’s inaugural issue. All water under the bridge now.

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. It hit 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:

Riyadi looking for journos for his new paper
One more English-language daily in Indonesia

Media on Globe

The Jakarta Globe spins slowly

Jakarta Globe by the 14th?

Jakarta Globe out today

AFP’s loss, Jakarta Globe’s gain

Two Riady papers in one week

Post or Globe? You decide

Percolating thoughts about Post, Globe and the Malaysian blogosphere

The Post prepares to strike back

Jakarta Globe 9; Jakarta Post 0

One step forward for Post, one step back for Globe?

An active and mixed year so far for Lippo group

9 Indonesian media houses laying off staff

The Globe blazes a path in intellectual parrying

The beginning of the end of the Globe?
Did The Jakarta Globe’s editorial go gaga over Lady Gaga?

The Jakarta Globe mounts a defensive commentary on its Lady Gaga editorial

The vibrancy of The Jakarta Globe’s editorial pages

Connecting Deeper and soaring to great heights at the #APMF2014

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.

The plenary hall of the APMF. http://t.co/kH5Kl3YrnB

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.

Abdee from Slank energised the audience of 700 with his “Salam Dua Jari”. Photo courtesy of AMPF committee

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.

Anies Baswedan:..we all clearly know our roles as husband, father, rector…but what about our role as an Indonesian? Photo courtesy of AMPF committee

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.

Kentaro Kimura on why 1+1=3. Photo courtesy of @newsplatter

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.

The closing ceremony. Photo courtesy of AMPF committee

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.

9 Indonesian media houses laying off staff

Why are 9 media houses in Indonesia laying off staff? Maverick Awie Yudiansyah discusses the issue in Talking Points:

Media lemas, karyawan dilepas

Tidak hanya satu atau dua, tapi sembilan media massa harus melepaskan sejumlah karyawan mereka awal tahun ini.

Diawali bulan lalu, Globe Media Group yang membawahi Investor Daily, The Jakarta Globe, Globe Asia, Campus Asia dan Suara Pembaruan melakukan pengurangan sejumlah 200 karyawan di semua lini media-media tersebut. Berbeda dengan Media Nusantara Citra (RCTI, TPI, Global TV, Indovision, Majalah Trust, Radio Trijaya, Women Radio, dll), kabarnya tidak melakukan pengurangan karyawan di Harian Seputar Indonesia. Namun manajemen menyiasati dengan mengurangi bonus dan kenaikan gaji tahunan.

Di akhir Januari lalu, Berita Kota melepas 142 karyawan secara sepihak. Berita Kota rupanya diambil alih oleh anak Kelompok Kompas Gramedia, Warta Kota. Penolakan karyawan masih berlanjut sampai beberapa hari lalu, ketika eks karyawan harian Berita Kota menggelar demonstrasi di depan Kantor Pusat Harian Kompas. Menurut mereka, pengambil-alihan tersebut untuk menghentikan persaingan bisnis yang telah terjadi selama 10 tahun belakangan.

Masih di akhir Januari, 53 karyawan Indosiar juga di-PHK secara sepihak. Buntutnya, ratusan karyawan Indosiar berunjuk rasa di depan kantor televisi swasta nasional tersebut.

Sementara itu, edisi terakhir majalah gaya hidup dan fesyen A+ juga terjadi pada Januari lalu. Majalah ini terpaksa ditutup karena, katanya, merupakan yang paling tidak produktif di antara media-media di bawah Grup Mahaka. Terakhir, majalah Prodo juga tutup, namun karyawan mereka kabarnya diakomodasi oleh Merah Putih Productions.

Lengkap sudah kita saksikan satu per satu jenis media tutup, atau setidaknya mengurangi karyawan: mulai dari harian, mingguan, bulanan, sampai TV.

via Media lemas, karyawan dilepas.

Indonesian tycoon to expand his influence to Malaysia?

If this report is true then Indonesia has some claim to being proud for its investors are extending Indonesia’s influence overseas.
Those in the know about Malaysia’s media scene said that if such a transaction were to take place it would likely be Penang-based Kwong Wah Yit Poh of KL-based Oriental Daily as they are the last two independent Chinese-language dailies that the Sin Chew Group in Malaysia hasn’t gobbled up, yet.
clipped from www.btimes.com.my

German keen to invest in Penang media firm via Lippo Group

THE Penang media landscape may see the entry of a foreign player, sources said.
It is learnt that a German buyer, via Indonesia’s Lippo Group, is keen to acquire shares in a Penang-based Chinese newspaper.
A source said that the potential buyer is in talks with two Chinese media parties.

Chinese dailies circulated in Penang include Kwong Wah Yit Poh, Nanyang Siang Pau, The China Press, Guang Ming Daily, Sin Chew Daily and Oriental Daily.

Rumours have been circulating in Penang that Indonesian tycoon James Riady is buying into a small Penang newspaper. The Riady family’s business interests, known as the Lippo Group, span property, hospitals, and media in Asia.

Sources close to Riady in Jakarta, when contacted, said: “There is no foundation to the rumours”.

Last year, Riady launched Jakarta Globe in Indonesia. – By Marina Emmanuel

blog it

Strange rumblings at English language paper?

Unspun‘s been at the receiving end of information regading a certain English language newspaper. Strange rumors of unhappy people wanting to leave after joining the paper for not too long…an senior local journalist with initials AP leaving… Other stranger rumors of either a fight of some sort of a violence involving a senior staffer at a hotel owned by the newspaper proprietor…

But the strangest involve the proprietor an his doings, or undoings…one involves a brewing dispute between the three largest shareholders at an Indonesian afternoon paper that is threatening to turn ugly…another involves purchases of small newspapers in Penang, Malaysia and another one in Myanmar, Juntaland. A senior expatriate editor will apparently, for his sins of ommission rather than commission, be sent to the boondocks in the land of Hokkien Mee to take care of the paper…

…all of this sound strange even to Unspun‘s ears but he’s been in Indonesia long enough to know that this is the land where the magic theatre of the absurd is very much a reality.

Getting defensive on National Press Day

Oh the sad, sad decline of journalism. The Jakarta Post’s editorial today (below) makes a spirited attempt at diagnosing what ails journalism in this country.

It parades the usual culprits – the internet, broadcast channels, corporations buying into the media and even – for a brief moment – journalists themselves. “Professionalism is so sorely lacking today that, unless they get their act together, journalists will be the ones who are killing their own profession,” the Post asked.

But then it stops short of a close examination of its major decision makers and went on to put out a begging bowl, asking if anyone is willing to invest in training journalists so that they woudl be more competitive.

Unspun thinks this is a bit of a cop out and the Post should have delved in depth about the failure of the profession, specifically its senior journalists, to cure itself.

It has always been a source of wonder to Unspun and some hard boiled journalistic old timers how detached the senior editors, who should know better and an do better, approach the performance of the profession and their respective news organizations.

These editors have had lots of training and exposure, thanks to scholarships, fellowships and all sorts of exchange programs courtesy of Embassies and foreign governments. Many of them have gone on prestigious fellowships like Nieman and others.

Yet for all the exposure they have had, when they come back to Jakarta, what sort of personal responsibility do they take in ensuring that their journalists live up to professional standards?How many of them would take personal responsibility for failing to lead their news organizations to higher standards?

And how many of them will be contented receiving honorariums as they do the circuit opining their tired old ideas that do not get at the root of the problem of how dismal the journalism profession is in Indonesia?

Editorial: Investing in journalism

The Jakarta Post | Mon, 02/09/2009 10:35 AM | Opinion

If you are a journalist in Indonesia, there is really little to celebrate but plenty to be worried about on National Press Day today. The future of our profession is in doubt because journalism, which has thrived on bad news, is now being bombarded by bad news about itself.

Journalism is coming under attack from left and right, inside and out. Newspapers, which gave journalists their first platform, are no longer the main drivers of news. That role has now been fully taken over by television, the Internet and radio, all of which give news literally as it happens and in audio-visual format. Abroad, newspapers are closing down. In Indonesia, newspaper readership stagnates at best.

Broadcast journalists do not fare all that much better. News programs have been squeezed out of the peak hours by the more profitable entertainment programs. Relegated to unsocial hours, news has been reduced to one-sentence tickers at the bottom of your TV screen, or a-few-second sound bytes.

The Internet may have democratized the news industry and allowed more players, but almost anything goes on the web today, so much so that it undermines the one thing that has made journalism in the past a public service profession: credibility.

The increasing corporatization of the media industry meanwhile is forcing editors to compromise on principles to meet the bottom-line targets.

Read more here

What good is Press Freedom?

Unspun recently had a very depressing conversation with a senior Indonesian journalist.

The conversation started when Unspun asked the editor of a large newspaper, let’s call him NK, what it would take to get journalists to dig below the surface in a case that has all the elements of a good story – a rich conglomerate tycoon, abuse of power, abuse of the institutions of State, bribery, corruption.

The story, or parts of it, has been in the news because of a well-publicized case involving a top business executive being caught red handed. All indicators, to anyone with even rudimentary powers of inference, point to a tycoon behind everything.

Yet, the media, even the established ones, aren’t interested in covering the story apart from what’s happening in the surface.

“This is insane,” said Unspun. “Here you have, a businessman so powerful and corrupt that he is using the institutions of State to force the business outcome he wants in his dispute with another group. This is the story of how an individual can hijack the state to do his own bidding. Why is no one interested to dig deeper?”

“Well,” said NK. “You have to understand that the papers these days do not have the manpower to do this.

“They are not doing well financially and cannot hire quality reporters. Also there is no one to do the investigation.”

“No one? How can that be?” asked Unspun incredulously.

“No one he said,” a pained expression crossing his face because he felt strongly about journalism and what it can do too. “First off there is not enough people around. Not enough journalists.

“Secondly, there are very few quality journalists who are able to do any type of investigative journalism. Those who used to do it have moved on and there are very few of them left.

“The result is tha the papers have only the resources to chase the issue for the day or the week. Any older issues get left behind and forgotten. Then when the next issue breaks, they divert all their resources to chasing the new issue,” said NK.

“How has this come to pass?” asked Unspun.

NK explained that the deterioration in quality journalism, what there was of it, began when the conglomerates took over the media. These days most of the papers and TV stations are controlled either by the MNC Group, the Jawa Pos Group, the Gramedia Group, the Lippo Group or other businesses.

“They have no interest in quality journalism,” said NK. “All they want is either to make money from their media or to wield influence by controlling the coverage of their media.”

The only hope, he said, lies with the more reputable papers like Tempo and Kompas. But Tempo’s been experiencing flat revenue growth so does not have much money to spend o hiring and training  quality reporters. And Kompas has chosen to be extra careful over everything. So we have nothing.

“If someone or some business feels that they have gotten a raw deal by the courts, the police or any other state institutions they are on their own. They shouldn’t expect the Press to play its role as a watchdog of society,” said NK.

“This is sad and ironic,” he added. “Indonesia has all the freedoms that the Press could want but we are not making use of this freedom.”

Unspun was depressed in the drive home.

Quixotic tilt at the Post?

Update: the Jakchatters, especially Kukukukacha seem to have got their knickers in a twist over this posting, aying that Unspun is displaying racist tendencies and being unethical (question: if anything that appears on Jakchat is supposed to be private, why don’t you make the forum private, for members only?) Amuse yourselves and be disgusted by misogynistic males here.

One of the contributors of the Globe, Aulia, has also Twittered/messaged Unspun to say that he’s been paid for all his work, and Simon has posted comments below to say that the check’s now in the mail).

The International Herald Trubune has carried a story on James Riady’s decision to launch The Jakarta Globe in such troubled times. Read it here.

But what’s also equally interesting is that Jakchat has the Metro Mad columnnist Simon Pitchforth complaining that he hasn’t been paid for two months now. Simon moved his column from the Jakarta Post to the Jakarta Globe some time ago and he’s now wondering if he’s made the right move. Read here. (Thanks for the tipoff in the comments to the last posting, BBill)

Not one to tell one side of the story only Unspun has Twittered the Jakarta Globe, which has been extremely active on Twitter, posting reports, sports matches etc. let’s see if they will use Twitter for answering queries from their readers as well.

In the meantime Unspun‘s been told that Gita Wirjawan, the co-chairman of Ancora Capital, was also not too happy with being a columnist at the Globe and has decamped to the Post. Unspun supposes that money is not the issue with Gita, who probably thought he woudl have a better audience with The Post. He started appearing in the Post last week writing about Black Swans, if Unspun is not mistaken.

A shrinking Globe?

Unspun hears rumors that The Jakarta Globe is considering changing its format to American broadsheet from its current full broadsheet size. If these rumors are true then it would be a bizarre decision as the Globe launched but only a few months ago and to do so at this point in time would make it look like  it was following The Jakarta Post, that revamped its format to American broadsheet and changed its layout for the better.

In the meantime Unspun’s also been told that Ahmad Pathoni, who joined the Globe from Reuters has for some unpublicized reason left the Globe to join Dpa, the German news agency where one of the Globe’s editors, Joe Cochrane, came from.

Toni’s departure leaves Bhimanto Suwastoyo as the only senior Indonesian editor at the Globe who commands professional respect. There is also another rumor that another editor might be leaving. So what’s happening there?

The Post strikes back with 32 pages

Competition is good.

Spurred on by newcomer Jakarta Globe‘s 48 all-color pages and a more progressive layout, as opposed to the Jakarta Post’s dowdy, anachronistic layout in 24 pages, the Post is finally putting into place long overdue changes.

From Monday, Unspun‘s been told, the Post will have a new look and size and number of pages. It will bump the pages to 32 and come in three sections – general, business and classifieds. The dummy Unspun saw is laid out in 6 columns of text. The Post will retain its present masthead but it will be adored with panels above and below to blurb the inside contents.

The layout is modular and looks much better than the present incarnation (not a difficult feat). Business news coverage will also be beefed up in the Post. Acting as executive editor advising the business pages is Manggi Habir whose accomplishments include stints in at Standard and Poor’s and Citibank. He also has an MBA from from Michigan U and a Masters in Public Administration from Harvard University. One of the hats he wears is also as Chairman of Danamon Peduli.

Though nowhere near the Globe’s 48 pages the Post’s 32 pages is actually quite a good size, given this market. The Globe has had to resort to what we used to call BFPs to fill in the 48 pages it has because there’s not enough quaity local copy (BFP stands for Big F–ing Photos, to the uninitiated).

Unspun hopes that the Post gives the Globe a run for the money. If the Post can keep up the pressure then it will mainly be a matter of time before James gets tired with his new toy or run out of funds for the paper. But to do so it has to also improve its content (and certainly its horrendous headlines by copy editors too punny to be true), not just its looks.

Here’s to looking at ya.