The Jakarta Post
'Koran Kami with Lucy in the Sky' by Bre Redana. (JP/Ni Nyoman Wira)
Koran Kami with Lucy in the Sky (Our Newspaper with Lucy in the Sky) is the latest book by veteran journalist Bre Redana, who worked for Kompas for 35 years before retiring in October. In his book, Bre writes about printed journalism and how different it is to digital journalism.
Koran Kami with Lucy in the Sky is a story about veteran journalist Santosa Santiana, also known as SS, who is asked by friends to create a newspaper amid the popularity of online media. The team recruits retired journalists and names their newspaper Koran Kami (Our Newspaper). They believe it is still possible for printed media to survive in this day and age. Bre includes a brief romance between SS and a subordinate, Lucy.
Lucy in the Sky in the title came from The Beatles’ song "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds."
In 2015, Bre wrote the short essay Inikah Senjakala Kami (This is our twilight) that was published in Koran Kompas on Dec. 27 of the same year. The essay, which discussed the end of printed media, was commented on by other journalists, among them Wahyu Dhyatmika as well as Bayu Galih and media researcher Wisnu Prasetya Utomo.
When asked about the connection between the novel and the essay, Bre said both touched on the same problem. He said many people had misunderstood Inikah Senjakala Kami and thought that Bre had underestimated the role of digital media.
“I just want people to realize there has been change. It’s because the change that was brought about by a different type of media is very fundamental,” Bre explained after a discussion on his book at Kedai Tjikini in Central Jakarta on Dec. 20.
'Koran Kami with Lucy in the Sky' author Bre Redana (left), moderator Candra Gautama (center) and Press Council member Nezar Patria during a discussion on the book on Dec. 20 at Kedai Tjikini in Central Jakarta. (JP/Ni Nyoman Wira)
Bre then cited the concept of “the medium is the message” by Canadian intellectual Marshall McLuhan. “The news presented by printed media and digital media have different natures,” he stated. “Many people say that content is [the most] important, that any platform is the same. I don’t think it is [the same]. With the novel, I wasn’t limited by page. I had the freedom to say whatever I wanted.”
The discussion on the book also featured Press Council member Nezar Patria as one of the speakers. "I don’t fully agree with what Bre said [in the book] because there's a kind of romanticism about printed journalism, as if it's better than the digital journalism of these days," Nezar said. "I appreciate the romanticism, but [...] we can’t dismiss that mainstream media has been replaced by digital media's growth."
However, Nezar explained the reason behind Bre's romanticism, especially when it questions the principles of good journalism. He acknowledged that digital media has its problems, among them accuracy, the culture of fast news that floods people with information that they easily forget, hate speech and fake news, which he saw as very alarming. “How do we fight fake news? Of course we can’t point at digital media as the ultimate culprit because almost all mainstream media seems not to be doing anything to decrease or silence it,” Nezar said.
Bre, who wrote Koran Kami with Lucy in the Sky as tanda mata (memento) for Kompas, said that in the book he mostly wanted to describe and apply core values that could not be changed. “Those values are humanity, love, friendship, brotherhood,” he said. “I’m not resistant to change, but what I preserve are those values. In journalism, for example, it’s accuracy.”
Koran Kami with Lucy in the Sky is not Bre’s first novel and certainly will not be his last. He will not write a sequel to Koran Kami or about the media in his next effort. “It will be about NKRI [Unitary State of the Republic of Indonesia],” he said, smiling. (asw)