Pantau organized a course on narrative writing this June with Janet Steele, Yudhistira M. Massardi and me co-teaching the two-week course.
The idea to have this course began in 1999 when Steele and me were having a discussion about Tom Wolfe’s New Journalism in Washington DC. We thought that we could introduce this genre in Jakarta.
Steele is an associate professor at the George Washington University. She is a historian but teaches this genre in her campus. She also writes The Sun Shines for All: Journalism and Ideology in the Life of Charles A. Dana (1993) and is to launch her Wars Within on Indonesia’s Tempo magazine later this month.
Massardi is a novelist who wrote his best seller, Arjuna Mencari Cinta (Arjuna Seeks Love) in 1977. His novel was made into a movie with similar title.
We organized the first course with the Pantau magazine in June 2001, thinking that we might do it every year. It attracted quite an audience to the extend that we decided to do it every semester.
We had 17 people attending the eight class. From an Indonesian perspective, it is a diversified class with participants coming as far away as Aceh in western Indonesia to Papua in the easternmost. Some come from the predominantly Muslim areas while others come from predominantly Christian islands. Some come from national newspapers but some also represent student magazines.
They included (standing left to right) Yuli Ahmada (reporter for Surabaya-based Surya daily), Muhammad Yamin Panca Setia (Gatra magazine correspondent in Bandar Lampung), Subro (a Madurese activist of the Sekolah Mitra Masyarakat in Pontianak), Fahri Salam (student journalist in Jogjakarta), Ikram Putra (student journalist in Bandung), Noor Huda Ismail (former assistant correspondent of The Washington Post in Jakarta, now working in Singapore), Winston Rondo (the director of the Center for Internally Displaced People's Services (CIS) in Kupang), Asnawi Kumar (Reuters stringer in Banda Aceh) and Cunding Levi (Tempo magazine correspondent in Jayapura). Rondo is also the publisher of the Lorasa'e Laen newsletter in Kupang.
Those who sat on the sofa included (left to right) Tarlen Handayani (a writer and a book store owner in Bandung), Firdanianti (business editor of Swa magazine in Jakarta), Janet Steele, Syafa'atun (writer and researcher for the Demos human righsts research group in Jakarta) and Nani Afrida (The Jakarta Post correspondent in Banda Aceh) as well as (squating left to right) Saiful Haq (human rights activist in Makassar) and Robert Isidorus (Suara Pembaruan daily correspondent in Jayapura). Both Isidorus and Levi also work for the Suara Perempuan weekly tabloid in Jayapura.
Emmy Fitri, a feature writer for The Jakarta Post, was absent when this photo was taken.
The Ford Foundation, PT Freeport Indonesia, Fulbright Scholarship Program, Reuters, Surya daily and Swa magazine helped sponsor this course.