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Your Wiki in Your Own Words
Wikimu.com encourages Indonesians to write
Maria Margaretta Vivijanti (retty67)     Print Article 
Published 2007-05-10 09:56 (KST)   
I really enjoy being a citizen journalist. With OhmyNews International, I've had the opportunity to learn more about writing than I would have as a contributor to conventional media. After reading "OhmyNews Opens Research into Global Citizen Journalism," I thought it would be a good idea to write about an Indonesian citizen journalism Web site and give input from a developing country.

Before I joined OhmyNews International, I joined Wikimu.com. I had enjoyed the comments from readers. It helped me build my writing spirit. I also enjoyed commenting on other writers' articles, as it gave me a chance to share my views without the need to work on an article. Some contributors love to answer your comments with another article, which can have an echo effect.

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"Wikimu" means "your wiki" and its slogan, "bisa-bisanya kita ...," can be translated into "our own words." This slogan uses Indonesian slang to show that they are aiming at the younger generation or those young in spirit. It gives you the courage to speak out. Sometimes nonprofessional journalists are uncertain about their writing. Sometimes they only want to share some bad experience as a warning for others. This slogan encourages them to write. It also shows that they cater to any level of journalistic writing.

Some registered members are only readers; they have never produced an article. Some are active commentators, but should be pushed a little to produce an article. There are also professional journalists registered as members who help other contributors to meet journalistic standards and ethics in their writing. In return, they learn about popular issues from readers' points of view.

While researching information about Wikimu.com I discovered that one of its founders is a citizen journalist from OhmyNews International. The news just popped out in a telephone interview with Melani Laksmono, Wikimu.com's head of operations. I was talking about Indonesian netizens in OhmyNews International, and mentioned the names of Yulianti (founder of Panyingkul.com) and Aloysius Wisnuhardana. Laksmono casually answered that he was the person we had been referring to in our conversation as Wisnu.

I later found out that Wisnuhardana was also inspired by OhmyNews International, which he joined after reading an article from the Indonesian daily Kompas. He is an active professional journalist who now works for the tabloid Rumah (about houses and interiors).

Wikimu.com is owned by Intimedia, an IT company. It was founded by Adrianto Gani, the CEO of Intimedia Web Venture, and by three professional journalists: Wisnuhardana, Wicaksono (a journalist from Tempo daily newspaper) and Deriz S. Syarif (a journalist from the daily Bisnis Indonesia).

Wikimu.com's first article was published in September 2006 and the site officially launched on Oct. 10, 2006. Not yet a year old, its presence has already made an impact. A television station recently quoted from one of its articles on a sales proposition on a historical building in Jakarta. The writer, Berthold D. H. Sinaulan, is a journalist with a reputable Indonesian daily, Suara Pembaruan. In Wikimu.com he can write far beyond his assigned area.

Studies revealed that Indonesians are closer to verbal culture than writing culture. We got our classical legends more through the stories from our grannies than through books. That's one factor why citizen journalism on the radio is far more appreciated than that on the Internet.

Wikimu.com is trying to instill a love of reading and encourage people to write. Bayu Wardhana, Wikimu.com's administrator and editor, said that they are growing together with their readers and contributors. For example, while they had predicted the need for traffic reports (the first seed of citizen journalism on the radio), it turned out that readers fancied health issues more.

When the comments in an article become more personal, the administrator opens a group mailing list to cater to the need. It helps members to bring out new issues and ideas, and also helps the group to see democracy in practice.

The site is growing and more-delicate issues are being covered. For instance, we learned about the misery and agony felt by Papuans about gold mining in their region and how it has not empowered them. We also read a balancing view from another contributor citing some successful Papuans.

Citing Steve Outing's "11 Layers of Citizen Journalism," Adrianto Gani puts Wikimu.com in the sixth layer -- the stand-alone citizen journalism site, edited version. The editorial layer actually works only as a safeguard against inappropriate content. Some corrections are made to poorly written articles but most of the time the editor keeps the community spirit above the "journalism."

I have also experienced hybrid work when I asked Berthold and Bayu to collaborate in writing an article about a historical building. I did the outline and my part of the research, Bayu worked on pictures and Berthold helped by adding his own research and doing the editing.

In part, Wikimu.com can also be put in the 11th layer of citizen journalism, as readers are also editors, in terms of content. If there is a mistake, the author or other readers can revise the content by commenting on the article.

In terms of journalism, I can't compare Wikimu.com to OhmyNews International yet, but in terms of spirit, I feel the same fire -- the fire that lit the candle of writing in me!
©2007 OhmyNews
Other articles by reporter Maria Margaretta Vivijanti

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