Monday, December 17, 2012

Frequently Asked Question, Part 2

Updated: A photo of me interviewing Danish author Peer Holm Jorgensen in 2009, taken by FanFan.

A friend asked me a few questions regarding my job as a journalist. I thought I'd better write a post about it. So here it is, a post on questions I often get during the course of my work. I hope it helps answering the questions those who want to work as a journo.

1.  "How much do you earn as a journalist?" or "I'm thinking to apply for a reporter position in (put in a media's name). Do you think they have a good remuneration system?"
If you ask me the former question, then I'd say it's enough for me. I will not mention the number, though. If you ask me the latter, then I can go on for hours explaining about the media situation in Indonesia. But long story short, I will say this,"If you want to get bigger salary, don't work as a journalist." You have been warned :).

2. "I like traveling/fashion/(put in any subject that does not involve corruption/political party/crime). Does your office need a journalist for that particular subject?"
I work for a newspaper, which requires its journalists to be able to write anything, from a company's initial public offering to the Constitutional Court's decision on Education Law. There is a chance to be assigned for Sunday edition or the Features desk, of course, but the cubreporters will spend the first few years in three desks: National, Business and City. You will be assigned to the morgue, the slums and the Bantargebang final garbage dump. If you can only write one subject, then you'd better apply to magazines that specialize on that. Another option is to become a contributor, which I think is more profitable.

3. "I want to send an article to (put in a media's name). Can you have a look?"
I'm sorry, I may not be the right person to help. I just don't have the time. To people who want to send an article to a media, I will say,"Do your homework. Please read the media before you send an article there because each media has its own vision and mission as well as writing style." If you are able to recognize those and implement them in your articles, then I'm sure your articles will be published in short time.

4. "As a journalist, you must be traveling a lot. Where have you been?"

Being a journalist is not as fancy as anyone imagine. I posted this image on the photographer's job. And I can say that it's the same way about journalist, you just have to change the red-colored 80 percent with "Asking smart questions" ;). The travels I usually do is the daily four-hour commute round trip between Bekasi (where I live) and Jakarta (where my office is at). It sounds sad, but it's the truth.
Sometimes journalists work for years to get assignment abroad or, in my case, fellowship to another country. My colleague Peeyutz worked for 2.5 years in Jakarta before she got an assignment to Australia, while another colleague Permenkar also spent 2 years indoors as a journalist for the Online division before the office sent him to Malaysia. 
In Indonesia, where most systems run on emotion, feelings and affinity, journalists may get assignments abroad if the bosses like them. Unfortunately, I'm not one of the ass-kissers I can't pretend to be the person that I'm not. So all those assignments abroad I've got were either hard-earned (usually my kind editor stood for me in the editorial meeting so I could attend the event) or it's the kind of lame assignment that nobody desired.
The answers to the question are, if you like to know, Makassar in South Sulawesi, Kei islands in Maluku, Ende in Flores, China and Singapore (all were assignments from the office) as well as South Korea, Italy and Vietnam (fellowships that I applied on my own). Yes, the job allows me to travel, but not that much.

5. "Did you major in Journalism or English literature?" (Usually this question pops up when they know I work for TJaP)
You don't have to major in Journalism to work as a journalist in Indonesia. I majored in Architecture, a colleague took Metallurgy while another Farming. Of course, it will help you a lot in news writing if you major in Journalism. To apply to TJaP, you don't have to major in English literature, you only need to have at least 550 in TOEFL. Anyone can do it!

Do you have any questions? Fire away, my lovelies.

P.S. You can read Part 1 here, if you like 
P.P.S. Why you should or should not be a journalist.

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