Friday, May 30, 2003

My Daily Diet (of News)

It has been my routine to go to the Internet cafe every Saturday and Sunday morning in Jakarta. During weekdays, I'll be constantly connected to the Net from the office. On weekends however, it is more economical for me to get my Internet fix from an Internet cafe rather than dialling out from my hotel room. I cannot start my day without first dipping into all the major online newspapers from Malaysia, Singapore and Jakarta. By instinct, I'll always visit the Star website followed by The New Straits Times. For the latest breaking news from Malaysia, the Bernama website has been my favourite since my days in Singapore. I also take the trouble to sample the main news from at least one of the Malay newspapers - Utusan Malaysia being my favourite. It is interesting to read their unashamedly anti-American views and the aggressive and accusative tone they take in reports about Singapore. Harian Metro is also worth a check for their scoops on the latest scandals involving our local artistes.

Having worked in Singapore before, I'm also interested in keeping up with the happenings there. As there is only one major mainstream paper in Singapore, everyone reads the Straits Times. Ironically I find that the Singapore paper is actually a good source of news and information about Malaysia. The reports by their Malaysian correspondent Brendan Pereira are actually insightful, balanced and informative - often illuminating the background and the unreported aspects of the latest political intrigues in the country. I also occassionally check the Malaysiakini website for the latest underground news. Reports from the Singapore papers, Malaysiakini, together with the official version from the mainstream papers will often be sufficient to give me an accurate picture of what's happening. For a lighter afternoon read, Singapore's The New Paper can sometimes be quite interesting - it is their version of the Malay Mail with an eye for the odd, humorous and sensational.

For Indonesian news, The Jakarta Post is the best and most widely read English daily, though the local papers in Bahasa Indonesia such as Kompas are more informative and detailed. When you talk about local Indonesian tabloids, there are so many of them - trashy and vulgar versions of the Malay Mail and the New Paper. Whenever you stop at traffic lights, you'll get these scruffy street vendors shoving them to your face. The trick is not to be attracted by the front-page headlines - they have a knack for spotting your eye-contact - or they will be harassing you to buy until the traffic lights turn green.

The Guardian, BBC and CNN are my main sources for foreign news. In a typical morning though, the Malaysian and Singaporean online papers would occupy at least an hour of my time already. The rest of the sites, I'll only visit them if time permits throughout the day. I still haven't mentioned sites that I visit for sports news (ESPN Star), technology news (Slashdot) and other miscellaneous sites such as my favourite blogs. Using an RSS-capable news aggregator like feedreader helps tremendously.

By the end of my day, I would have been thoroughly saturated with information, not to even mention my daily dose of BBC on TV at night. Sometimes I am amazed that I still do get to put in some decent amount of work in the office. How that happens, I am not particularly sure; but the last I checked, I still have my job.

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