How do you balance business pressure and journalism values?
We limit our operations to a scale that allows us to seek revenue streams only from grants, membership, and our earned revenue (cooperation with organizations sharing the same values, the same mission, training, events, etc). We have to carefully calculate the right size of the organization. We only buy digital tools that are essentials, and whenever there is a chance to get free or discounted digital tools (like Flourish and Canva for nonprofit, Google Non Profit), we use them. Pandemic also brought online working culture, which cut a lot of cost.
Collaboration and a network of like minded people with great skills also help us save some human resource costs. Collaboration with other media outlets increases our impact as well. We work with a lot of freelancers. We want to be able to give them better working conditions and benefits, but we haven’t reached that goal.
What factors have played a key role in Project Multatuli ‘s success as a commercially viable and sustainable independent media organization?
Great teamwork (picking the right people, good leadership), collective ownership of the organization that allows all team members to give their best, transparent, accountable working culture, a combination of journalists and people who have business acumen working together for the same goals, and the journalists’ stellar reputation when we began our work and later their high-quality, impactful works as journalists.
As a former Managing Editor of The Jakarta Post, what is your opinion on the future of print media in Indonesia and beyond?
Even if print media continue to get subscribers, the medium does not allow it to innovate much, hence it will be difficult to make any impact with only print media. It has to combine the platform with digital.
Where do you see digital journalism heading in the next five years?
We are currently at the crossroads: continuing journalism’s unhealthy relationship with big tech logic, algorithms or finding some way out of it. Many scholars, journalists, and journalism institutions, are working hard to find different ways to do journalism other than kowtowing to SEO, algorithm, so I’m optimistic that the remaining journalists in this harsh battle brought by digital disruption would deliver some good news. Project Multatuli is actively taking part in the endeavor.