Phillippa Stewart has just completed her second week at the Jakarta Globe, an English language broadsheet newspaper printed in Indonesia. Published daily, it covers national and international news, Indonesian and world business, and features and lifestyle pages.
In her own words, here is how this week went:
There was a big features meeting today to discuss the Christmas schedule and to decide when everyone is expected to work. It is a pretty busy time with Islamic New Year this Friday and Christmas next Friday. The office is pretty fair about things and ask the Christians to work this Friday and the Muslims to work next Friday. For the next few weeks the features department is operating with something called their “skeleton team” – the minimum people required to produce the newspaper.
They also discussed what stories everyone is doing and asked for any new pitches. It was an interesting meeting and useful to understand how papers work to set deadlines and how they plan for weeks ahead.
I wrote a feature on the top travel websites in Asia.
Not a great deal to report today – working on a story about some interesting health gadgets to help you on your quest to fitness.
Since I am not going home for Christmas (sob), the editors thought it might be nice for me to get a little taste of home. They have paired me up with a reporter, Tasa, and asked us to review the Christmas decorations in the city’s malls. Easier said than done given Jakarta’s traffic; no wonder the Jakarta Globe website has a section called “Jammed Jakarta!”
Six hours later and four malls down (still got three to go), we called it a day. The creativity of some of these malls is quite astounding. The decorations ranged from the traditional snow scenes, to the, er, less traditional Spongebob Squarepants Christmas Extravaganza. Very entertaining. I think the locals were somewhat bemused by the “bule” (white foreigner) interviewing Father Christmas.
Thursday 17th December
Tomorrow is a non publishing day (Islamic New Year) so there are very few people in the office. As the newspaper still prints on Saturday, the journalists get the day before New Year off to compensate. Tasa and I still had three more malls to visit, so we had to brave Jakarta’s traffic once again. Joy.
Still, it’s interesting to talk to Tasa and find out about journalism, religion, and the way of life in Indonesia. It’s also shocking to see these big expensive malls and then drive by slums on the railway tracks. Truly, it is a city of contrasts.
Friday 18th December
Got into the office early to write up the Christmas decoration story before the 11am deadline. Katrin is in Tokyo for the next two weeks so I am writing her ‘Spotlight’ and ‘Corner’ column. Got started on writing up profiles of Ben Bernanke and Philip Larkin after having some lunch with some of the features team. The office is pretty dead today as it is Islamic New Year.
Off to see a famous Indonesian psychic this afternoon. Spooky! One of the reporters is doing a feature on predictions for 2010 so I asked if I could go along too. Should be interesting…
(Find out next week what the future holds – mwah ha ha ha)