Thursday, May 18, 2006

My seat of power

So here's a shot from just behind my desk at the Jakarta Post. My former colleagues in NH and Indiana will note that the Post is every bit as lush and well-appointed as your average public radio station. Those machines you see on our desks are on special loan from the Museum of Very Old Computers. We do get free tea and coffee, at least.

The job has worked out as I hoped - it's not too taxing, but not too dull. Basically we have a bunch of clipboards representing different sections of the paper - Leisure, National, City, etc. The editors log each story as it's finished, and then we copy editors claim and edit them.

Some stories are beautifully written. It's fun to tweak them to get their language to really flow. A few, on the other hand, are like wading through cement - especially some of the opinion pieces we get from government and NGO types. Usually in the second paragraph they'll say something like: "In order to fully comprehend this very important issue, we need to understand the past. So let us examine the history of Indonesia-Australia relations beginning in 1887."

"Oh, let's NOT," I beg silently, but unfortunately it isn't up to me. If the prose is really ponderous and bureaucratic, there's only so much I can do. I just break up the long, long sentences into shorter ones, and try to replace stuffy words like "comprise" and "utilize" with more human ones.

Occasionally we get some amusing sentences, like the one about the face cream with "an advanced ingredient that strongly appeases wrinkles." On the other hand, if I could write an article half as well in Indonesian as these guys do in English, I would be very impressed with myself.

My fellow copyeditors are a nice bunch and I'm sure some of them will become outside-of-work friends. Getting to know the Indonesian editors has been a slower process, but I'm hopeful it will happen in time.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the work posting. Actually, the newsroom at the Post is far more lush-looking than my digs at WUKY! What are your work hours? How do working conditions differ from the U.S.?

kopisusu2 said...

Hmm. Well, it's a seven-hour day, not eight. I'm not sure how standard that is. The hours are variable right now: I work 11am to 6pm for a week, then 2-9pm for a week, then 3-10. It's a morning paper, so evening hours are part of the territory. My "weekend" is Monday-Tuesday, although I think I'll start getting normal weekends and a regular, non-rotating shift in July.

I don't get to have dinner with Chad very often, which is sad. But the hours are perfect for doing reporting on the side, since I can go to interviews and press conferences during the day and then work in the evening.

As for working conditions ... let's see. I get 12 days off per year. From what I understand, the salary is good by Indonesian standards but not good compared to, say, all the multinational oil company employees who get hazard pay and tons of perks. The company pays my taxes and is getting me a 1-year visa, saving me not only money but a fearsome amount of paperwork.

Some people are nice and some people are annoying. The coffee is above-average. So, generally, I haven't noticed any big contrasts with working conditions in the US.

the writer said...

hey, thanks for posting this pic. how I miss my old office, esp now that they've moved to a shiny new building