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Jakarta Globe takes on the Jakarta Post

The newspaper industry in the US is suffering, as we know. But an Indonesian billionaire thinks there’s room for another English-language paper in Jakarta. In November, James Riady launched the Jakarta Globe to compete head-to-head with the well-established Jakarta Post.

Today’s IHT has the story: “Indonesian billionaire takes on the Jakarta Post

That it is probably the worst time in history to start a daily newspaper is not, at least for the moment, on the minds of the people behind The Jakarta Globe.

The Globe, an English-language paper that hit the newsstands in November, is an unusual sight in this era of the shrinking – or disappearing – newspaper: It is a 48-page broadsheet, big enough to cover your desk when unfolded and painted head to toe in color.

The paper is backed by the billionaire James Riady, deputy chairman of the powerful Lippo Group and one of the wealthiest people in Indonesia, with interests including real estate, banking and retail.

Riady is also a budding media mogul. He owns the Indonesian business magazine Globe and is developing a Web portal and a cable television news channel.

“I think they are serious about creating a media empire, becoming the Rupert Murdoch of South East Asia,” said Lin Neumann, The Globe’s chief editor.

This snippet caught my eye, as well:

Neither The Post nor The Globe would discuss advertising revenue or circulation figures. Bayuni said The Globe had not yet cut into The Post’s circulation.

The papers’ editors, however, both pointed to Bangkok as an example of a market that has been able to sustain two English-language broadsheets, although Bangkok is a much bigger market than Jakarta. Both said they would aim at the growing Indonesian middle class – a group that is increasingly learning, working and reading in English. More than half of The Post’s readers are Indonesian, as opposed to expatriate, and The Globe, recognizing this trend, is betting on the local population to increase its market share.

And there’s this, about competition for journalists in Jakarta:

The two papers are fighting over journalists as well as readers. Finding experienced, English-speaking local journalists is not always easy here and the competition for them is high. The papers, however, are taking different approaches.

The Globe has put together a team of about 60 Indonesian reporters, recruiting from wire services like Agence France-Presse and Reuters. One of its deputy editors is Bhimanto Suwastoyo, who worked for AFP for more than 20 years and is widely considered one of the best local journalists.

The Post, on the other hand, has long been a training ground for local reporters looking to get their start in the industry. The paper offers a training program in exchange for service of as long as two years.

Often, Bayuni said, those reporters move on to more prestigious or lucrative positions. Bloomberg News employs six former Post reporters.

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