To Be a Good Entrepreneurship Reporter, Don’t Be an Entrepreneur

So here’s the rule of thumb for entrepreneurship and business reporters out there: Don’t be the person you want to interview and write about. In other words, don’t be an entrepreneur or business person. This piece of advice sounds a little bit counter-intuitive as I thought it’d be much easier to understand the subject matters by being in their shoes, seeing things the way these people do so I can write better about them and their companies.

It turns out I’m wrong…

Reporters need to stay away from being an entrepreneur themselves. They can’t be a top-notch reporter and a great entrepreneur at the very same time. They have to relinquish one of the two.

That’s probably the gist of Sarah Lacy’s statements. The founder of media company Pando.com was asked whether being an entrepreneur herself changed her way of writing as a tech reporter. As we all know, Lacy has worked for almost 15 years writing about the tech industry, the people and the whole dynamics in it. She answered it bluntly,”I’m a way worse reporter now…”

Asking hard questions to other entrepreneurs as an entrepreneur cum reporter is relatively easy, claimed Lacy. Yet, she stated that what bothered her to do her best job she always wanted is the OVEREMPATHY on the answers. “So particularly when it comes to things I’ve gone through…like having the ousted board member (she might be reminded of Mike Arrington ousted from TechCrunch or?) or even like a cash crunch or hiring a sales guy that didn’t work out[…]”

She further said she didn’t write as much as she used to and she felt for these pitiful entrepreneurs. “Because I see every side to it and I feel for them,”explained the mother of two.

Thank God, I’m not an entrepreneur because if I have to be one, I would certainly lose my best job ever. And I would never trade being a writer to any job on earth. This is very much the best. At least for now.

The Success Catalyst of Journalism Businesses

At Galeri Nasional

Mark Briggs of Poynter Institute claims his course would tell you – aspiring entrepreneurial journalists – what to do before plunging to the business world. After the huge success of BuzzFeed and The Huffington Post, every journalist seems enchanted to give this a try. Who knows it’ll be a fruitful business undertaking that’ll lead you to a life full of fortune?

But if you’re like me, you know it takes more than writing and reporting skills to do great in journalism industry. There’re so many factors we need to take into account to be successful. And yet, the meaning of success itself is blurred. What I mean by success may be entirely different from what you mean, and what any other journalists mean.

Briggs couldn’t be as popular and wealthy as Kara Swisher, Sarah Lacy, Jakoeb Oetama or Jonah Peretti but he is for sure quite experienced in his own way. He stated his course “aims to give participants the knowledge and tools needed to launch content-driven news/information websites. We’ll take you from idea to implementation and, when necessary, help you retool or replace ideas with better versions.” In complete, he writes:

If you’re considering starting a news or information-oriented website, this course will help you decide whether an entrepreneurial path is the right one for you. And if you’re looking for a crash course on starting a business, it will show you the ropes, point you to the right resources and help you formulate the questions you most need answers to.

WHAT YOU WILL LEARN:

After completing this course, you’ll have newfound knowledge about creating a business and bringing your specific idea to fruition.

You’ll be able to:

  • Explain the difference between an idea and a product.
  • List the basic elements of a business plan.
  • Define basic business and marketing terms, including ROI and CPC.
  • List and summarize the legal structures available when establishing a business, and identify their strengths and weaknesses.
  • List popular technological platforms and cite strengths and weaknesses of each.
  • List available analytics tools and identify what to track and how to analyze the numbers.
  • Summarize the primary options when forming a business as a legal entity, getting legal and accounting help and finding software to help run the business.
  • List and describe major ad networks (e.g., BlogHer, Federated Media)

For your specific business, you’ll be able to:

  • Define your market, approximate its size and identify your audience
  • Write an executive summary.
  • Define the current work that needs to be done and identify the people who can do it.
  • Determine whether funding is needed and, if so, how much.
  • Decide whether the business can be bootstrapped and, if not, identify options for securing funding.
  • Estimate how many users/customers/viewers/readers will be “enough” to make the business work.
  • Identify qualities that distinguish your business from your competitors.
  • Perform a basic assessment of potential adjacent markets.
  • List questions that need to be answered about your product, market and/or business.
WHO SHOULD TAKE THIS COURSE:
  • Journalists working at legacy operations interested in founding a start-up venture
  • Recent journalism graduates interested in working in journalism, but not for a “traditional” journalistic business
  • Anyone passionate about a community, topic or cause who has a desire to start a publication-based business with journalistic values

For a moment, I let the words seep into my mind. Is it going to work? Can all these topics cover what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur in journalism industry?

It doesn’t seem that easy. Mastering all these things might be leading us closer to the goal but definitely not instantly.

We need a CATALYST.

What could that be? The mysterious catalyst that we’re searching for…

I remember several juniors asking me if they could just stay in the comfort of their hometowns while doing their journalism gigs. I told them, if they can be in Jakarta, it’d be much better.

The reason is because they need NETWORKS, people. They must see and talk to people, not only sitting and typing at home. Journalism businesses do NOT work that way. You have to go out, see more and more people, talk to them, dig tons of information from these folks you may not find at the smaller social circle in hometown.

Only Churnalists — Not Journalists — will Get Replaced by Robots

Of all jobs, there are 8 that digital media futurist Amy Webb predicted would eventually vanish at some point in the future: toll booth operators and cashiers, marketers, customers, factory workers, financial middle men, journalists, lawyers, and phone workers.

I frowned and continued reading on. This might be a joke. Utter disbelief.

Webb argued journalists will be wiped out as the new technology could replace their functions as news gatherers. Webb, who used to work as a journalist at Newsweek and The Wall Street Journal, stated:”[…] the next culprit will be algorithms that allow news outlets to
automatically create stories and place them on websites without human interaction. Robot journalists (fedora optional) are already writing thousands of articles a quarter at The Associated Press.”

That, if it really happens, will be a calamity for us journalists.

But what we can do to prevent this from happening to us?

No worries. For versatile, professional and competent journalists, being fired and getting replaced by algorithms certainly never happens. Obviously algorithms have no creativity a human journalist has.

So be as indispensable as you can be, journos! Or else, you’ll perish.

Tentang Wawancara, Mewawancarai, Diwawancarai dan Membaca Wawancara

Wawancara. Bisa dianggap mudah saja atau tantangan luar biasa. Mewawancarai secara alami lebih dituntun oleh keingintahuan lalu terkumpullah serangkai fakta atau apapun yang diasumsikan seperti fakta. Klaim dan simpulan tak berdasar kadang menyelip di sana sini yang terpaksa muncul karena ingin hasil wawancara lebih bombastis dan menarik dibaca orang. ‎Dan mungkin, karena pemeriksaan fakta (fact checking) sudah harus mengalah oleh tenggat waktu. Maklum, pembaca makin tak sabaran. Dunia (merasa) makin tak sabaran. Ini sungguh membingungkan dan sejatinya mengibakan. Karena pewarta makin lama makin seperti budak saja. Upah tak seberapa, tetapi mesti bekerja menata kata dari berbagai fakta yang ditemuinya, tanpa kenal penat yang meraja dan redaktur yang semena-mena.

‎Wawancara kerap dilakukan secara impromptu. Alhasil pertanyaan-pertanyaan yang dikeluarkan sekenanya. Tak tersusun baik, teracak, tanpa alur. Kalaupun tersusun sebelumnya, hanya dilakukan di sela rangkaian aktivitas yang padat luar biasa. Bahkan karena otak beku, pertanyaan sering mengabaikan logika. Norma juga bukan kendala, etika juga. Lalu bagaimana? Ini semua sungguh membuat gila! Bagaimana bisa mencapai hasil sempurna?!

Tetapi mendapatkan kesempatan wawancara pun sudah beruntung kadang. Bukan sekali dua kali pertanyaan sudah tertuang rapi di lembaran dan ternyata harus dibuang ke keranjang karena ‎sang narasumber yang (berpikir dirinya) terlampau terkenal sulit ditemui langsung dan begitu sibuk, atau memilih menyibukkan diri dengan jurnalis-jurnalis media besar dan melupakan pewarta-pewarta media maya.

Sementara itu, ada sebagian mereka yang mati-matian menjerat wartawan. Membuatnya terpaku di suatu waktu dan bangku, mendengarkan perkataan narasumber gila publisitas tanpa‎ jeda lalu menyajikan berbagai suguhan menggoda. Dari voucher makan tanpa biaya, jamuan makan cuma-cuma, memiliki kesempatan mencicipi kemewahan yang tak terjangkau anggaran dari upah bulanan.

Pewarta mewawancara sering karena tak ada pilihan lain di mata. Ya sudah, apa adanya saja, gumamnya.‎ Tenggat waktu toh makin dekat. Jadi daripada hari ini kena damprat, kenapa harus kesempatan ini dibiarkan lewat? Tinggal rekam atau catat. Sisanya bisa dikembangkan dari fantasi atau hasil menjelajahi hasil yang disuguhkan mesin pencari.

Kecewa kadang mendera kalau narasumber incaran menolak menjawab pertanyaan yang merangsang perbincangan intens. Seolah ia menutup pintu. Terkunci di situ dan tak bisa melangkah lebih jauh. Yang hanya bisa dilanjutkan hanya isu-isu yang membuat jemu. Itu itu melulu. Rasanya sudah buntu.

Hati berubah gembira jika berhadapan dengan narasumber yang dermawan bukan kepalang. Satu pertanyaan sentilan membuka sekaligus banyak jawaban, bahkan yang tidak terlintas sebelumnya untuk ditanyakan. Terus, terus, terus gali saja sampai habis. Tandas hingga puas.

‎Sial, ada hal bagus untuk diberitakan yang keceplosan diucapkannya tapi ia beberapa detik kemudian baru sadar dan minta dirahasiakan. “Off the record ya…” Mungkin akan lebih mudah jika diabaikan saja dan tetap memuatnya dalam berita lalu menikmati pujian dari redaktur dan pembaca tetapi bagaimana kalau narasumber murka dan mencap tak bisa dipercaya? Susah juga ya.

Mendapat masukan tentang kesalahan padahal sudah menulis sesuai pernyataan? Bukan anomali. Bahkan frekuensi terjadinya bisa tinggi. Karena itu, jangan menggores pena tetapi rekamlah suara. Jari tak bisa bersuara, tetapi suara manusia yang bisa.

‎Diwawancarai apalagi. Tak kalah pelik. Apa yang harus dipersiapkan? Duh, nanti kalau tidak tahu harus menjawabnya bagaimana? Baiklah, jawab sebisanya. Ini bukan ujian. Rileks saja. Berpakaian terbaik, supaya kalau difoto tak akan mengecewakan orang tua dan kerabat serta sobat yang akan menjadi sasaran pameran. Percuma, karena si pewawancara tak bawa kamera. Punyanya Blackberry semata. Di hari mendung saja, hasilnya sudah kabur. Ia tak pernah meminta foto, jadi mungkin memang tak memerlukannya. Lalu setelah terbit, muncullah foto-foto di jejaring sosial. Sial! Baiklah, fotonya tak terlalu buruk tetapi bagaimanapun juga tak ada permintaan izin yang terlontar.

Spekulasi usia narasumber bukannya masalah raksasa. Bahkan bisa dikatakan propaganda biasa agar semua percaya itulah seharusnya usia berdasarkan tampilan di netra. Tak ada keberatan‎ karena kesalahan dari ketidaktahuan itu kadang sebuah kenikmatan. Namun, lain kali, akan lebih baik menulis yang benar-benar diketahui saja. Agar sang narasumber tak terkesan berbohong memudakan usia. Padahal ia tak juga berupaya menutupinya.

Waspada juga membaca hasil wawancara. ‎Mungkin yang berlebihan si pewawancara. Kadang juga si terwawancara. Acap kali dua-duanya. Atau kekurangtajaman pendengaran dan pemikiran yang perlu dimaafkan, bukan diperkarakan. Sepanjang tak ada yang merasa dirugikan atau disudutkan.

A Hotel with Newsroom Flavor; Hot or Not?

The Press Hotel is like no other hotels on earth. Probably designed for overly dedicated journalists who don’t mind at all spending their life days and nights, being chained at their working desk, the hotel is located in Portland, the US. It was not a brand new building though. Previously the hotel was a number of offices of Portland Press Herald but in 2010 was left unoccupied as the journos moved to another office building.

There are so many lifestyle facilities guests can enjoy right here. The Press Hotel has its integrated art gallery full of past remnants like archaic typewriters. It is not going to excite overworked journalists who in dire need of total break from their highly demanding jobs. ‎
If you want to get drunk, go drink some booze at “The Inkwell”. It is a bar with newsy taste in every inch of it. You’ll find artworks that look like things you’re likely to find at a typical newsroom back then.

(image credit : poynter)

How to Get the New Generation of Journalists TOTALLY SCREWED

Technology is never guilty. But still most people claim it’s a double-edged sword. I crack a smile. These people are mostly as f*cked up as the problem they’re talking about.

As ridiculous as it may sound, we might need to recall how all this mess in journalism currently is blamed on the surge of information technology. To me, it sounds like a fool trying to blame his own foolishness. Human race is just looking for a scapegoat, naturally. Because technology can’t avenge! Or at least talk to the creator back.

No one can rephrase the whole chaos in journalism industry any better like Jason Calacanis, a media entrepreneur cum seasoned journalist, does. And yes, nowadays journalism is also a field of industry. Like any other industries, it must generate profits, which at times sacrifices its then-highly-valued principles.

Here’s what I can sum up from Calacanis’ thought about the mess that the fresh, newer generation of journalists have to work and live with.

First of all, to screw new journalists’ work ethics and lives in general, you as an employer have to put too much pressure on these budding journos. Put the pressure with no mercy AT ALL.

Calacanis points out that more than 75% of the new generation of journalists out there are under pressure. Geez, he’s wrong in that almost all journalists are always under pressure, so are the churnalists (you know what churnalism means, I suppose). Pressure free is almost always impossible, except if a journalist writes for sheer fun. Yet, I agree with his idea that new journalists are now even more and more miserable under the inhumane demand of their employers.

“We know that a simple headline, factually correct, factually stated, accurate, does NOT drive traffic. But deception, lying, playing with words, bending the truth raises the number of tweets. What’s the impact on active journalism? Is this sending us in the wrong direction?!!” he questioned.

Another thing to make these new journalists screwed is leave them work days and nights without mentors. By mentors, I mean people who have the know-how, real experiences and time and resources to share with these poor young journalists.

Next, once they have no appropriate mentors, you can also strip them off their editorial assistance. That means they’re allowed to publish whatever they want to publish without any substantial copy editing done and rigorous fact checking the way old school journalists used to do.

Also, you have to push them. Like really really PUSH them to publish MORE content FASTER than their predecessors and at the same time remind them of maintaining VERY HIGH quality standard of journalism. Calacanis said they all are “a recipe for disaster”.

That way, if our new journalists make mistakes, offend people, or spread bogus news all over the world, they have no choice but take the blame.

That said, a mini apocalypse is on the way. To say the least, maybe democracy is falling apart.

But who cares?

(Image credit: Wikimedia)

Digital Free Tools Millenial Journalists Ought to Use More

Author cum journalist Allen Salkin at his writing desk. (Image credit: Wikimedia)
Author cum journalist Allen Salkin at his writing desk. (Image credit: Wikimedia)

There’s no reason a millenial journalist must stick to the old, inefficient ways of gathering information just like the baby-boomers journalists. Ren LaForme of Poynter Institute leaked some digital free tools we journos should use more often to let our work much easier than ever.

  1. Geofeedia.com: It enables us find given locations and grab digital information uploaded to the social media services from locations in question. You may also set a certain time bracket here. Cool, right
  2. Storehouse: The platform makes combining photos, text and videos more hassle-free.
  3. Timeline.js: It creates a timeline which doesn’t take you to be a geek like Edward Snowden.
  4. Storymap.js: The service lets you follow streams of information in certain locations.
  5. Snapchat: You’ll like it if you have to reach younger audience aged 15 or even under.
  6. Hyperlapse: Forget that notebook and pen. Use your smartphone with Hyperlapse installed on it.. Recording videos now becomes way easier. There’s algorithm to reduce shake as well.
  7. Tabula: The open source tool helps you extract precious data to a newsworthy document.
  8. Import.io: This tool can do you charm with the ability of turning information on the web into a chart as requested. Wonderfully executed, indeed.

Now that 2015 just began, it’s time to embrace these digital tools you’ve hardly used to impress your audience with speed and accuracy at an equal balance.

A Journalist who Hardly Ever Types

keyboardI know a boy who works as a journalist. He hardly ever types. He just copies and pastes but he is such a gem to his boss because his articles get lots of hits, page views. “Screw quality!”, he once said to me. It’s only about how many page views you can make and please your boss as much and long as you can and things are going fine. Bonus keeps coming to you so why bother typing all day long like me? It’s pretty much the message he has tried to send across.

Of course, he is such an object to envy. He can enjoy the perks of being an employee without having to work hard that much. Never that much. While I have to work hard for it.

It doesn’t matter how he sucked at the quality, it never bothers the boss. As long as the site rank is stable and showing positive trend, he is safe. Good for him.

Bad for his future…

Reporters Need ‘Space’ (read: Freedom)

keyboardFreeing your reporters to do really good works is DOABLE. Making them write 1-2 stories (with the best quality of journalism they can possibly provide readers) is one of the tricks. Don’t require them write 6-10 stories or even 10-15 stories a day (assume they work 8 hours a day, as they have their personal lives as well). It is not I who says so but Sarah Lacy, the founder of tech blog Pando.com.

I’m not stunned. She made a point. Quality, not quantity, is what she and her team are after so it does make sense for them to do so. A reporter cannot produce a piece of high quality journalistic content within less than an hour. That’s fucking crazy. Except the reporters only need to rewrite or repurpose or ‘repackage’ or summarize various articles from several sources scattered randomly on the web. It’s fun. They only sit at the office and never get out.

She further claimed that even a junior reporter aged 19 (I guess it is Nathaniel Mott she was talking about) was able to write a complex article which was she thought interesting and showed high quality in tech journalism that Lacy complained about to be flooded with press releases rewriting and copy pasting to be the fastest news breaker recorded on TechMeme Leaderboard.

She takes journalism really seriously, and that’s ridiculously awesome. At least to me. I don’t know it is to you.

Jika Menulis Jadi Otomatis (Tren Robot Penulis Berita)

Berhati-hatilah dengan impian dan harapan Anda. Begitu kata pepatah dari negeri China. Jika Anda bekerja sebagai pewarta, dan Anda pernah mengeluhkan betapa beratnya beban kerja Anda selama ini (misalnya karena harus turun ke lapangan, mengejar narasumber, menjalani piket/ shift malam dan dini hari yang membuat jam tidur kacau balau) dan ingin proses membuat berita menjadi semudah mengayunkan tongkat sihir dan mengucapkan mantra, selamat! Impian Anda sudah terwujud.

Beberapa waktu lalu saya pernah membaca sebuah artikel tentang bagaimana menulis buku yang praktis, yang ternyata dilakukan dengan bantuan software tertentu. Saya anggap ‘inovasi’ itu sungguh absurd. Jikalau memang teknologi semacam itu akan marak nantinya, tak serta merta ia bisa menjamin kualitas buku yang dihasilkan. Tetap saja harus ada campur tangan manusia dalam prosesnya. Otomatisasi tidak akan bisa seratus persen menggeser peran penulis dan segenap intelejensia, pengalaman, gagasan dan emosi mereka yang khas dan tiada duanya. Inilah yang tidak akan bisa dimiliki oleh buku-buku yang dihasilkan dengan mekanisme otomatis semacam itu, terka saya. Intinya, software itu tetap tidak bisa menggantikan peran para penulis buku fiksi dan non-fiksi.

Itu pula yang terpikir saat saya mengetahui dua media di Amerika Serikat mulai mengadopsi teknologi dalam proses penyusunan berita mereka dengan lebih inovatif. Los Angeles Times dan Associated Press dikabarkan telah menerapkan robo-journalism dalam proses produksi artikel berita mereka.

Sejak Maret 2014 media Los Angeles Times, yang menjadi pers lokal bagi kota Los Angeles yang dikenal sebagai kota yang kerap digoyang gempa bumi, menghadirkan inovasi berupa Quakebot, sebuah software karya Ken Schwencke yang selain bekerja sebagai jurnalis juga adalah seorang programmer andal. Konon hanya diperlukan waktu 3 menit untuk menyusun sebuah artikel berita gempa, yang relatif lengkap dan memenuhi syarat jurnalistik 5W (who, why, what, where, when) dan 1H (how).

Sementara itu, Associated Press sejak bulan Agustus 2014 telah menggunakan software penulis berita Wordsmith buatan startup Automated Insights yang bertugas merangkum berbagai laporan finansial korporasi. Dengan Wordsmith, tugas pewarta AP jauh lebih ringan. Bila dikerjakan manual, pastinya akan lebih memakan waktu dan energi. Dalam kasus AP, teknologi diperlukan untuk efisiensi kerja dan penyajian berita.

Bagaimana proses software Wordsmith mengolah berita hingga siap saji? Pertama, data mentah dijaring dari pelanggan, penyedia data pihak ketiga dan repositori publik seperti jejaring sosial. Banyak sekali format data yang bisa dijaring sehingga akurasi dan kelengkapannya relatif tinggi. Selanjutnya, dilakukan telaah data yang terkumpul dengan bantuan matriks canggih pendeteksi tren menarik dan menempatkannya dalam konteks sejarah. Kemudian data akan diidentifikasi dan dibandingkan dengan data lain yang sudah ada sebelumnya. Tahap berikutnya yaitu penyusunan struktur dan format laporan. Di sini, algoritma akan menyusun kalimat-kalimat untuk menghasilkan jenis format berita yang dikehendaki, misalnya narasi panjang, artikel pendek, visualisasi, tweet, berita dan sebagainya. Akhirnya, laporan tadi siap dipublikasikan secara real time via API, Twitter, email, laman web dan perangkat digital. Tugas editor hanya memberikan polesan akhir agar artikel tampak natural saat dibaca.

Kalau begitu mudah membuat berita sekarang, apakah para jurnalis tidak lagi dibutuhkan di masa datang? Editor pelaksana berita bisnis Associated Press Lou Ferrara tidak sepakat. Ia beropini bahwa robo-journalists ini justru memberikan banyak jurnalis manusia untuk melepaskan beban pemberitaaan yang simpel untuk lebih berfokus pada penyusunan berita-berita yang lebih mendalam. Argumen Ferrara menurut hemat saya memang cukup beralasan. Alih-alih membuat jurnalis kehilangan pekerjaan, inovasi robo-journalists justru harus dianggap sebagai pembebas dari rutinitas menulis berita yang membosankan dan itu-itu saja. Jurnalis tampaknya memang makin didesak untuk bisa berpikir dan menulis dengan sudut pandang yang khas dan pembahasan yang lebih analitis karena inilah yang tidak bisa dilakukan robot-robot itu!
Mengamini pernyataan Ferrara, Ken Schwencke dari LA Times juga menandaskan bahwa robo-journalists hanya melengkapi keberadaan human-journalists. Justru inovasi ini akan “membuat pekerjaan semua orang lebih menarik”, ujarnya.

CEO Automated Insights Robbie Allen juga memberikan pernyataan serupa, bahwa software buatannya bukan dirancang sebagai pengganti jurnalis manusia. Allen menambahkan kelebihan robo-journalists hanya ada pada ketepatan dan kecepatan pengolahan data. Sementara gaya bahasa, gaya penulisan dan sebagainya cuma bisa dihasilkan oleh human-journalists. Tugas robo-journalists jelas hanya menyajikan data agar lebih cepat dan layak baca. Titik.

Karena itu, jika Anda seorang pewarta yang setiap hari hanya bekerja untuk menyalin tempel artikel berita atau cuma menyadur tanpa membubuhkan kepribadian Anda di dalamnya, rasanya Anda harus siap-siap ditelan persaingan oleh robo-journalists ini.

Saya teringat dengan kata-kata jurnalis teknologi AS Kara Swisher, bahwa banyak jurnalis menyajikan berita dengan cara yang membosankan pembaca. Besar kemungkinan kemunculan robo-journalists akan memberangus jurnalis-jurnalis semacam ini, karena seberapapun cepat otak mereka bekerja dan jari jemari mereka mengetik, tetap saja tak akan bisa mengalahkan software-software seperti Wordsmith atau Quakebot. Maksudnya membosankan mungkin adalah penyajian yang mengikuti pola atau template tertentu, yang terus menerus berulang dan tak berubah. Alur cerita dalam berita juga relatif mudah ditebak. “Setelah itu, pasti membahas ini, ah basi,” begitu gumam pembaca. Tidak heran mereka juga bekerja seperti robot! Pastilah penyajiannya lebih kaku.

Dan satu poin yang menjadi perhatian bagi mereka yang mengaku jurnalis – bila mereka tak ingin tersingkir – adalah perhatian yang harusnya makin besar untuk membangun pemikiran sendiri dan tidak segan untuk menunjukkan kepribadiannya. Elemen kepribadian ini menjadi sorotan terutama jika Anda bekerja sebagai jurnalis online atau blogger. Tanpa kepribadian yang unik, karya-karya Anda akan kurang menarik minat pembaca. Bahkan jika kepribadian itu sangat sarkastis, atau emosional sekalipun, jangan ragu untuk menampilkannya dalam tulisan Anda. Karena kepribadian inilah yang sampai kiamat pun tidak akan bisa dimiliki oleh robo-journalists yang secanggih apapun. Contohnya, kata Swisher, adalah para jurnalis cum blogger teknologi di TechCrunch.com pasca keluarnya Michael Arrington, Sarah Lacy cs. Meski blogger-blogger TechCrunch itu kerap diremehkan dengan alasan memiliki bias atau sikap kurang objektif serta kurang piawai menggunakan prinsip jurnalisme dalam penulisan konten mereka, toh orang-orang itu sanggup menunjukkan kepribadian mereka yang menarik via jejaring sosial dan konten-konten yang mereka tampilkan. Tentu saja kata “menarik” di sini bersifat nisbi. Namun, yang patut digarisbawahi adalah bahwa kepribadian mereka menjadi salah satu faktor daya jual atau selling point yang turut mengungkit pamor konten berita yang disusun.

Jadi apakah masih ingin menjadi wartawan biasa-biasa saja? Itu terserah Anda. Namun alangkah baiknya bila mau berubah sebelum binasa.

Kantor Transisi yang Sunyi hingga Celoteh Wartawati Jilboobs

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Alhamdulillah semua kisruh Mahkamah Konstitusi itu berlalu. Sekarang Indonesia ibarat membuka lembaran baru. Season baru, begitu istilahnya kalau kita merujuk ke dunia sinetron atau serial televisi semacam Tersanjung atau Grey’s Anatomy. Kali ini tokoh antagonisnya sudah tenggelam, tetapi mungkin disimpan sutradara untuk ditampilkan secara mengejutkan di episode atau musim selanjutnya, sejenis Georgina Sparks yang jalang lalu bertobat di Gossip Girl. Tarik ulur yang menyenangkan, bak bermain layang-layang. Seru!

Kenapa saya bandingkan politik Indonesia dengan semua serial ini? Karena keduanya sama persis. Semuanya telah diatur di belakang layar. Skenario berjalan dan para aktor menjalaninya. Peran bisa berubah, watak juga demikian. Semua bisa berubah jika sutradara dan penulis naskah atau skenario berkehendak.

Jadi intinya sepanjang pagi tadi saya di sini, hanya untuk mengintai para pemimpin negeri, yang barangkali muncul tanpa peringatan kemari. Dan untuk itu kami – para jurnalis malang ini – bersiaga di depannya.

Saya sudah sampai pagi pukul 10.30, dan disambut hening. Saya pikir saya akan disuguhi keriuhan massa di sana tetapi saya salah besar. Memang dari jauh sudah terlihat mobil-mobil Metro TV dan TV One serta Kompas TV di dekatnya tetapi begitu saya mendekati, senyap. Seorang polisi tua berkumis tebal mengoceh dengan rekannya di perangkat HT miliknya. Ada juga segelintir pewarta TV hilir mudik resah memandang ke dalam melalui pintu teralis bercat putih itu. Tak ada siapapun di dalam kecuali dua orang anak muda dengan bingkai kacamata kontemporer yang bergaya dan celana pas kaki serta sneakers. Entah siapa mereka itu. Waktu solat Jumat mendekat dan saya harus pergi dari sana. Untungnya di Taman Menteng ada jamaah solat Jumat jadi tidak perlu jauh ke Masjid Sunda Kelapa.

Setengah dua siang menjelang sore, saya selesai bersantap siang kemudian berjalan kaki di rimbunnya pepohonan Taman Kodok di dekat jl. Situbondo, Menteng. Sampai di kantor transisi itu lagi, dan tak menemui kerumunan apapun jua.

Namun terlihat sekelompok pewarta di pojok dalam sana. Di halaman rumah yang sempit itu. Seorang petugas Paspampres menyuruh saya menuliskan nama dan paraf di buku besar berjudul “Wartawan”. Saya masuk dan duduk. Suasananya beku, membosankan. Semua orang itu asyik dengan gawai mereka sendiri. Dua orang di meja tengah itu tampak asyik dengan jari jemari mereka. Satu pria berambut sebahu dan satu wanita ber-jilboobs. Maksud jilboobs, kalau Anda belum paham, adalah jilbab yang masih belum syar’i karena terlalu pas di dada dan bercelana ketat.

Semua membosankan. Hingga tiba-tiba wartawati jilboobs dari stasiun televisi kenamaan itu mengawali celotehnya. Cerita-cerita yang cukup menghibur. Saya ikut mendengarkan sembari tetap mengetik, berpura-pura sibuk padahal mengantuk.

On James Foley Being a Real Journalism Martyr and Me Being a Churnalist

“Why do firemen go back into a blazing home? It was his job,” John Foley answered, according to CNN.com. Such an awesomely inspirational jerk! He made me feel so lame, sloppy and mediocre in doing my job.

We both are so different. Our super dedicated war journalist was so so so willing to risk his own life to cover conflicts that may in turn take his life in an unexpected fashion. While I am here, willing to be stuck in the job of churnalism, a form of journalism which sucks in a major way. A major way, I highlight. I need to create 15 or even more pieces of writing a single day due to pressure of improving Alexa rank and hits. It’s all about quantity. Screw reasearch! Screw checking! Screw reporting on the field! Screw interviewing. All I need to do is open my laptop, get on my social media feeds to scour the interesting sources to paraphrase and pick some uncopyrighted photos to publish with the listicles or mini articles and there I go. Click the publish button and done! No editing, no fact checking. It’s all about speed, quantity, return of investment. Period.

A huge, accumulative disappointment…

So when I get down to the field on Fridays, I take the chance to act like a real journalist. I talk with people, I record their voices (though at times I was lost in conversation), I ask questions which later on I assume to be foolishly unnecessary because the answers are so obvious. It feels great to create things with my own hands, efforts. I’m not paraphrasing and I meet with real people.

(image credit: news.yahoo.com)

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