What happened before “Maknyus”

A very interesting chat with the former investigative journalist now turns into publicly known local culinary savvy. Yet located in the highlands, he put some Mediterranean touch into his super artsy and comfy crib (thanks to his Spanish wife). I did the piece for Natgeo Traveler, but as usual, you could find some interesting – not published – conversation here. If you are a journalist who live in Indonesia, you might wanna read this.

Q: Speaking of you as a journalist, what is your latest journalism piece?

A: Even though I am not a journalist anymore when I finished it, I consider Bre-X as my latest work. I’m not too busy with my company at that time, so I worked on it in my free time.

(Bondan own a seafood company in Seattle, USA called Ocean Beauty International. He investigate Bre-x, a mining company from Canada which dominate most of gold stockpile in Busang, Kalimantan. Digital format of this book is available for free download. You could download it here)

Q: Share me your views about investigative journalism in Indonesia

A: There are several outstanding media. Tempo, for instance. For years, I became the grand jury for investigative journalism works competition, and most of the winner came from Tempo. We are talking about culture inside the media. Forging this kind of behavior only possible if we have the right environment. I am happy knowing at least there is one big media that fight for investigative work. In the future, investigative behavior is the key to survive the print media. Classic story, from a long time, people always predict that the old school media will collapse, plus, the invasion of new media has made everything in the information business flew so damn fast. Actuality is the new god of information.

This is simple logic. If print medias does not dig deeper – in this case investigate more and more and more – people will obviously left them. When I became the Editor in Chief for Suara Pembaruan, there was this journalism style I wanted to grow – but I think it was a failure. I called it: Fill in the Gap journalism. There are so much going on, but journalists are just inform it, they never want to connect the missing dots and give public the big picture. Little events are small puzzles to something big. There’s a gap that we have to fill. Indeed, smart journalist required for this type of journalism.

One more thing, I have this dream, in the future, Indonesian journalist must have high salary (I screamed, “Agree!”). This is important, to grow pride and honesty among journalists. I always said to them, “stop ngamplop and work hard! If the time has come, credibility will win it all.”

Q: Which one came first; your interest in journalism or culinary?

A: Oh, of course journalism. So here’s the story. Back then I was a proud scout. My hero is Baden Powell.  I learned about his story. He’s a successful general in the British Army, from the intel division. Long story short, I adore intelligent discipline, and I dreamt about being a spy. In the end, I saw journalist as the most relevant profession with my dream. That is my obsession. Until know, I think doing culinary shows still require you to do some investigative work.

Q: What makes you stopped being a journalist?

A: Back to the remuneration issue. My daughter is my wake up call. It was 1987. One morning, she said, “dad I want to study in USA.” And I realized, as long as I work as a journalist, I couldn’t afford it. I was the Editor in Chief of SWA at that time, and I still thought that I couldn’t afford it. So I switched and decided to become an entrepreneur.

photo: Hafidz Novalsyah / National geographic Traveler

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