Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Just a quick note to thank pirate journalism supporters out there. Avast! I appreciate that people are reading the posts, and thanks very much for dimes in the tip jar. We’re all outside the box together in this experiment.

I’ve been feeling a bit like a journalism version of Penn and Teller. Their gag is to show their audience how the magic trick works while they perform it. I suppose I’m reporting on reporting, really. It’s a goofy trade. As goofy as a magic act. The forces that propel and manipulate stories can be frustrating, and every bit as mysterious as a flight of disappearing doves. For example, the mountain is quiet today. So is the market for stories about Merapi. You may notice when an ongoing story slows, that journalists start interviewing each other. Pay attention. These can be precious, candid, and especially awkward moments. For my next act, I’ve been asked to talk to a reporter from the Sydney Morning Herald.

I’d like to give props to my friend with the Associated Press for writing this article. Chris is a great guy who helped me get my new apartment in Jakarta. When the mountain got quiet, Chris went to a golf course.

The caddies have fled. A pair of cleaning ladies squat in the shade of a tree near the 18th hole. The club's manager sits and smokes, knowing he's in for a quiet couple of weeks.

It’s brilliant. It’s like a series of haikus, really. And the problem is real. The volcano has shooed all the tourists (and their money) away since it started waking up more than a month ago.
An angle with a sense of humor.

I’m headed to the vulcanology office, but I’m afraid the road I’m on for this story is hackneyed. Volcano update. Volcano quiet. The assistant escaped through a hatch in the floor. He pinches the coin with his palm. Nothing over here. Presto.