Is This A 'No' to Asian Correspondent?
When I started Jakartass five and a half years ago, London blogger Diamond Geezer was one of my inspirations. His main focus is 'life in London' and for me he remains indispensable - because I'm a fourth generation (and probably more) Londoner.
I did think of simply copying this post (20.11.09)
of his because, other than he posts something every day, it exactly mirrors Jakartass.
As he says: Sometimes you can predict what I'm going to write about next, but usually you have no idea at all. That's because my chief raison d'être is that I write what I want to write, not what you want to read.
That said, what I do write obviously strikes a chord with folk who have a connection with Jakarta life. I have loyal readers, many who have bookmarked me, more who read my posts through the various feeds, and a regular group who leave comments and help initiate a discussion. Several of you send me links which add to my knowledge or, and I do like these, give me something to write about.
Before Jakartass, I painted - generally Indonesian landscapes. I may have sold one or two, but I have never painted in order to make money. Yet I know that some of my visual interpretations are scattered around the world, from Tasmania to Timbuktu - the last is a fantasy - because departing friends wanted a reminder of their time here and, hopefully, me.
Neither did I start blogging to make money, but for the same reason that I painted - because I needed to express myself - to myself.
I have received several invitations to earn a few dollars. The latest is an offer to write and publish a post about "online casino" and
[they are] willing to pay 50 USD
. Not a bad little earner, but gambling is a mug's game so don't expect me to loosen my fairly rigid moral uptightness any time soon.
A week or so ago, I asked for your views
on whether I should become a 'stringer' for Asian Correspondent
. No-one has said 'no' and this selection is supportive of my joining what I believe is an important and valid contribution to the dissemination of news and commentary.1. Wow. It sounds quite promising I must say. 2. When it comes to up to the minute Jakarta/Indo analysis I don't think Jakartass can be beat. You are a writer. Go write.3. Sounds great. Moreover, our colleague Jeff Ooi has already joined its contributor list. 4. Greetings from Africa.This looks like a good opportunity. If it is what they say it is - I would go for it. You need funds. To cover better Indonesia, you have to travel and someone (them) should be paying for it.5. Congrats, you deserve it. If you decide to take the offer, I hope that you would remain objective and positive in writing about Indonesia.
However, it's not all black and white. As Patrick Guntensperger
wrote to me, my concern is the notion that the blog should "remain objective and positive when writing about Indonesia". That's travel writing or cheerleading, and unfortunately the "objective and positive" guidelines are all too often self contradictory. When I get objective in many cases, I'm afraid the result is utterly negative.
I do not believe that AC would exercise editorial control. They have news feeds and their blogger-correspondents are as opinionated as I am. Let's face it, Indonesia is going through a crisis in moral and social stability. It's nigh on impossible to remain objective with all the shenanigans going on among 'our leaders', and hope is subjective.
For the time being, I have decided that in spite of comments such as those above (which are their own reward), for a couple of practical reasons I can't join AC on their terms.
I doubt that I can post five times a week as suggested by AC because I am 'in demand' for my language consultancy work - and I do need instant access to earned income.
Furthermore, I would have to write for a new 'constituency'. Unlike Jeff Ooi who parlayed his forthright blogging into a (Malaysian) parliamentary seat, I have no aspirations in a similar direction. If I have an aim in writing, it is to contribute to Indonesia's reformasi
because this is the society I live in. I may occasionally ramble among the bare bones of my past, but generally as a counter-balance to current issues here.
Unless AC were to offer funds to support me as a roving reporter - unlikely in the extreme, but thanks to my reader in Africa for that idea - then Jakartass will continue as my personal and idiosyncratic (idiotic?) take on life in the Big Durian catering to a generally loyal and supportive readership.
However, I have written to AC suggesting that they let me contribute a weekly, or preferably bi-weekly, Jakarta-centric column, without giving me having to give up this site ....
(Incidentally, there are five 'Indonesia Correspondents' listed. None actually live here
and they mainly write about happenings in Australia, India and the Philippines. If anyone is interested in joining AC, send an email to Sanj