How an investigation into fake Ph.Ds became a case study for newsroom transformation

by Sherry Ricchiardi, Dec 14 in Digital journalism

In September, an investigative story shook the halls of academe in Indonesia.

Reporters exposed a fake Ph.D. scam at 12 universities, sparking government intervention and a purge of the perpetrators. “Doctoring Doctorates” was more than a journalistic coup.

For the Tempo Media Group, the high-profile project was a template for the future.

In June, Antoine Laurent, an innovation strategist and former journalist from Paris, began a fellowship supported by the International Center for Journalists (ICFJ) and Google News Lab to help Indonesian news companies like Tempo harness new forms of storytelling using the latest digital tools. One of his first projects with Tempo was to develop interactive visuals for the Ph.D. exposé, a prototype for Tempo’s new multi-platform journalism.

Traditionally, the investigative unit has been exclusively print-oriented, paying scant attention to interactive infographics for, one of Indonesia’s leading news websites.

The Ph.D. project changed all that. It produced a list of impressive milestones for Tempo. Among the most significant:

  • For the first time, the investigative and infographics teams worked together from the start to plan both a digital and print version of a story. During the process, print staffers learned to use interactive tools.

  • Until September, Tempo had never produced a large investigative project with interactive elements. Previously, only text and photos from print stories were posted on the website and a PDF put up for subscribers.

  • Normally, investigations had been published first in the weekly magazine, then a few days or a week later, posted on Laurent pushed for the Ph.D. story to be published simultaneously in print and online. The results were staggering.

The exposé drew thousands of reader comments and social media shares. “It generated one of the biggest page view scores in Tempo’s history. Everybody was talking about it,” said Laurent.

Tempo’s reporters were invited to appear on television and radio to discuss “drive-through degrees,” including plagiarized dissertations and faked signatures on attendance logs.

There also was impact in the halls of power. The Ministry of Research, Technology and Higher Education launched an investigation and suspended a rector at Jakarta State University believed to be a ringleader.

Though the story was first broken just before by Tirto, an Indonesian publication, Tempo, well known for its strong investigations, helped push the issue to the forefront.

Going digital

Like so many news companies around the world, Tempo is struggling with a steady decline in advertising revenue and circulation for its print products — a weekly magazine and daily business newspaper. To Tempo’s leaders, going digital is a matter of survival.

At the same time, Indonesians are shifting toward a greater use of digital media, especially among the younger population. There is more demand for news delivered via mobile devices. Tapping into that growing market has become a priority for the Jakarta-based company.

“If we don’t have a sophisticated digital presence, we will be left behind and lose out on this new landscape. Making this change was an inevitable decision,” said Wahyu Dhyatmika, editor-in-chief of and a driving force behind the transition.

He stresses that Tempo’s core journalistic values remain intact, but everything else is subject to change as the company morphs into a digital operation under Laurent’s direction as an ICFJ Google Fellow.

A chief objective: Build a culture of infographics and interactive news that will become as routine to newsroom staff as writing headlines and copyediting.

For the Ph.D. package, Laurent teamed up with digital project manager Sadika Hamid to create maps, charts and graphics for both the print product and website.

They turned to Infogram and Piktochart software, reasoning that both could provide reliable interactive results with the shortest learning curve, important for staff low on technical skills. A plugin, created with Laurent’s guidance, allowed readers to tab through examples of the universities’ numerous violations.

Pushing the investigative team to think in terms of multimedia content proved a major challenge.

“We asked them to plan a week or two ahead for infographics and they were not used to that,” said Hamid, a former reporter. “They only know print deadlines. We had to remind them over and over.”

For future projects, streamlining the embedding process for graphics and visuals will be a priority, Hamid said.

She explained that Tempo used iframes that allowed third-party tools, like Infogram, to be embedded in the Ph.D. story. That made them accessible to users but took a longer time to load.

Hamid was concerned website traffic could be lost if users were directed to external sites and failed to return to Tempo is in the process of developing tools that will be hosted on its own servers to avoid using iframes.

“The goal is to have more control, including loading time and customizing content,” Hamid said.

A “facelift” for the newsroom

Tempo is also prioritizing its newsroom training regimen. Over the next few months, staff will learn about data visualization tools, multimedia and user engagement. A digital transformation team is being formed to help direct the next steps in the evolutionary process.

Dhyatmika credits Laurent with helping smooth the newsroom transition when he arrived in July.

At first, the plan was to retrain all the journalists and “do a whole facelift of the newsroom,” as Dhyatmika describes it. Laurent, he said, recommended a different way forward “without rocking the boat too hard.”

Instead of mandatory training, editors engaged staffers, many of them younger reporters, who showed an interest in learning new skills. They hoped illustrating the benefits of building a digital-friendly environment would entice others to climb on board.

“Journalists are a very skeptical group. We had to show, not just tell,” said Dhyatmika, a prize-winning investigative journalist and 2015 Harvard University Nieman Fellow.

Many staffers still are not persuaded that a digital operation is the way forward, “but we have convinced key people in the newsroom and that is enough for now,” the editor said.

The reorganization will continue in phases, including changes in job descriptions, leadership and newsroom workflow. Web designers, news programmers and digital experts to run the media lab will be hired to boost Tempo’s online effectiveness.

“We realize we need to recruit people with a different set of skills. Our goal is to eventually have a multi-skilled newsroom,” said Dhyatmika, who views the next few months as crucial to Tempo’s evolution.

Tempo plans to finish redesigning its magazine’s and newspaper’s websites by February 2018, for instance. “Then we can involve more people from the newsroom in producing digital products,” said Dhyatmika.

“Hopefully the staff will see that we are not sacrificing the best values of our profession,” he said. “We are enriching them, making them more engaging, and reaching more people. That is good for our whole operation.”

Antoine Laurent is an ICFJ Google Fellow based in Indonesia. He has a strong background in bringing the latest digital innovations to media to enhance their storytelling, content distribution and audience engagement. He specializes in digital tools like Google Fusion Tables and Maps, YouTube Live, Infogram and Datawrapper. Learn more about his ICFJ Google Fellowship and background here.

Image taken by Fardi Bestari. Pictured (left to right): Wahyu Dhyatmika, editor-in-chief of; ICFJ Google Fellow Antoine Laurent; Sadika Hamid, digital project manager at; Mustafa Silalahi, investigative journalist for Tempo Magazine

Source: IJNET

How Indonesia’s Tempo Sets a Fast Pace in High-Impact Digital Journalism


Knight Fellow Laurent (second from left) has helped Indonesia’s media giant, Tempo, blaze the path in interactive storytelling.

A pioneering team at Tempo Media Group, one of Indonesia’s largest media houses, is embracing digital storytelling in a big way. Its interactive multimedia investigations are captivating readers by exposing everything from corruption to illegal drug trafficking.

With support from International Center for Journalists (ICFJ) Knight Fellow Antoine Laurent, Tempo launched the six-person Medialab team last year and reimagined how it tells stories online. In the past, Tempo shared investigations online up to a week after the print publication published them. Text and photos were uploaded as PDFs.

No more. Tempo’s digital stories now break news, and the media giant’s toolbox now includes 360-degree photography, interactive maps, embedded videos, clickable timelines and more.

The investment in digital storytelling is paying off. One of the Medialab’s first stories—an investigation revealing a fake PhD scam, rich with photos and data visualizations—quickly garnered one of the highest page views in Tempo’s history. Thousands of readers shared the story on social media, and employees at the state university were suspended for their involvement in the scheme.

“I think users feel they get more information and understanding from an interactive story than a plain regular story,” said Tempo editor Wahyu Dhyatmika. He noted that even before a planned marketing campaign, 500 to 700 new readers every month had been signing up for digital subscriptions. “We are now in the process of expanding the Medialab,” said Dhyatmika.

The team’s recent projects and their impact include:

  • A multimedia investigation that showed how local officials were profiting from illegally selling land permits to palm oil companies. After the story broke, Indonesia’s anti-corruption commission arrested several district heads.
  • An interactive map of nightclubs in Jakarta where illegal prostitution and drug trafficking run rampant. Soon after publication, Governor Anies Baswedan prosecuted and closed all of the nightclubs mentioned in the article.
  • An illustrated long-form story about an unsolved acid attack more than a year ago that partially blinded a top anti-corruption investigator. After publication, the police committed to greater action on the case.

To make the transformation, ICFJ Knight Fellow Laurent focused on beefing up the skills of the infographics team rather than push the entire newsroom to learn digital storytelling tools.

“It’s quite unfair to tell someone who is not digitally savvy to change quickly,” said Laurent, an innovation strategist and former journalist, who drew on his experience supporting digital transformation in French media as the former director of the Fonds Pour l’innovation Numérique de la Presse.

During his tenure as a Knight Fellow, which ended in July, Laurent also worked with KBR68H, Indonesia’s only independent national radio news agency. Like Tempo, KBR68H has expanded its online storytelling by creating a dedicated digital storytelling team. KBR68H’s new team draws on the station’s roots in audio reporting, creating interactives such as this audiogram story.

“Indonesia is such an important country — it really sets the trends for all of Southeast Asia,” said Patrick Butler, ICFJ’s vice president for programs. “Antoine and his partners are leading the way for the advancement of journalism throughout the region.”

The ICFJ Knight Fellowships instill a culture of news innovation and experimentation worldwide. Fellows help journalists and news organizations adopt new technologies to enhance their news gathering, storytelling, editorial workflows, audience engagement and business models. The result: sustainable, trustworthy journalism that serves the public interest. Learn more.

Source: ICFJ

30 Tools in 60 Minutes l by @jeremycaplan

  1. Transcribe Interviews Automatically, Accurately Otter (free) | Temi (.10/min) | Deepgram | 28+ Transcription Tools
  2. Listen to Podcasts Seamlessly: Castro |Overcast | Breaker | RadioPublic | Downcast | NPR One | AntennaPod
  3. Create Audio Easily: fm (free) | Descript | Zencastr | | BlogTalkRadio | Mixlr | Audioboom | Simplecast
  4. Curate Cool-Looking Podcast Lists: Pocketcasts | 99 Great Podcasts | & 14 for Kids | My fave podcasts
  5. Fun with AR Teleport (free, just for fun) | Arrow AR (free) | PhotoMath (free) | Apple Clips (free)
  6. Compose Music Without Knowing How: Amper ((freemium) | Take | Figure | Garageband (free) |
  7. Produce Unique Photo Illustrations Olli | Waterlogue | Prisma | Pikazo | Lucid |
  8. Bring Text to Life w/ Kinetic Typography Hype Type | Slate Text |Legend | Spark Post | Quik’s “Type” theme)
  9. Produce Music Vid-Style Algorithmic Video Quik (free) | Magisto | Shred Video |
  10. Accentuate Images with Typography Typorama | Spark Post (free) | Word Swag
  11. Design Vertical Stories: Canva (free) | Keynote Template (email JC for access) |
  12. Craft a Digital Scrapbook: Wakelet (free) Twitter Moments (free) | Playbuzz Stories | CoverItLive
  13. Make Visual Cards: Stats, Facts or Quotes Pablo (free) | Stencil | Canva (free) | io
  14. Share Mobile Text Snapshots: Instapaper Textshot (free) | ly Resize images for social
  15. Annotate Images on the Go: This by Tinrocket ($2) |
  16. Create mobile tag clouds & word graphics: Tweetroot (free) | WordFoto ($2) | Phoetic ($1)
  17. Create a VR or 360 experience easily: Fader VR | Vizor | Wonda
  18. Create Quizzes: Playbuzz Create (free) | Engaging News Project QuizMaker (free) | Typeform (freemium) Apester
  19. Make Timelines and StoryMaps: Beedocs 3d |TimelineJS (free) | | Storymap JS (free) |
  20. Create Charts: Studio | DataWrapper | | | Piktochart | (freemium)
  21. Create Mobile Charts Chartistic (free) | Viz ($2) |
  22. Let others make appointments with you easily: Calendly | WhenIsGood
  23. Build slick Web pages (freemium): cc | Atavist | OnUniverse | Paste App | Adobe Spark Suite
  24. Amp Up Your Copy and Paste: CopiedApp | ClipboardHistory Mac App
  25. Find free raw material: Unsplash | YouTube Audio Library | CC Search | Internet Archive | TheNounProject
  26. Amp Up Your Email: MixMax | Gmail to Trello (free) | Crystal (freemium)
  27. Backup Your Images | Google Photos (free)
  28. Get Stuff Done | Trello | Trello Inspiration (free) | Airtable |
  29. Find what’s next: Producthunt | Betalist | Journalism Tools | Nuzzel | Webb’s Trend Report ‘18) (free)
  30. Bonus Tools: | Threader | Hyperlapse | Layout App | co | Buffer App | Logoscopic | Headliner


Contact: to invite me to talk with a group.

Follow @jeremycaplan on Twitter for new tools, resources and updates.

Bonus Resources:

  1. My PDF of slides for this 30 Tools in 60 Minutes session: ly/wondertoolspdf2
  2. My core list of basic tools for digital journalists: ly/toolkit18
  3. My core list of smartphone apps & resources: ly/smarterphone18
  4. My list of entrepreneurial journalism links and resources: ly/ejlinks
  5. My “29 Tips for Mobile” Handout: 1 Page Handout for Making Mobile Multimedia |


Bonus Tools:

  1. Automate Stuff: IFTTT (free) | Cool IFTTT Recipes | Zapier(freemium) |Workflow(free) | Buffer | Launch Pro
  2. Make Social Audio Clips: SoundCite (free) (NYT Example) it | Soundcloud | Spreaker | Headliner
  3. Deliver Stories w/ Messages: (free) Whatsapp | Whisper | Confide | Snapchat | Wickr | Kik | Line | Viber | Telegram
  4. Make elegant charts efficiently | Tableau | io | Visme | Google Charts | RawGraphs
  5. Add Hotspots to Images: ThingLink | 360 Room Tour Example | ThingLink Featured
  6. Edit video on the Web: com |
  7. Create simple gifs out of images or video: com | Synthetic Audio:
  8. Make a site with a Google Sheet (list of places, currencies, etc): com |
  9. More simple site-builders for portfolios: My Product Hunt List of Landing Pages ReadyMag | com |
  10. Create useful interactives out of Google Spreadsheets: Awesome Table


Tool Collections:

  1. Great Tool Kits: Playbuzz | Knight Lab
  2. Other tool lists: JournalismTools | JournalistsToolbox (incl Podcast tools) | 38 DataViz Tools |Try This – Poynter|
  3. Shared Tools: CardKit | VoxCards | NPR’s DailyGraphics | about | Qz Chartbuilder | ProPublica Nerds


Learning about Data

  1. Guardian Infographics Guide | Free Data Journ Handbook | Data & Design 300-pg PDF
  2. Syllabus and Lesson Outlines for Learning Data Reporting with Derek Willis
  3. Data Culture: Activity Guide
  4. Read Chapter 5 of com and read the case studies
  5. Read A Pocket Guide to Verification


Data Sources:

  1. | | | |
  2. org | | |
  3. Roundup of recent data reports and research | Scraping Data | Search Google for filetype:.xls

Data Visualization Best Practices:

  1. Matching Chart to Purpose by Andrew Abela | 100+ Diagram Types by Duarte
  2. Flowingdata: Chart Rules to Follow | Data Viz 101, via Hubspot
  3. Selecting the Right Chart, via FusionCharts | Picking the Right Chart Type by Jānis Gulbis
  4. 8 Million Ways to Present a Story by Sara Quinn
  5. How NOT to Dataviz: wtf/ | Ugly Visualizations | Junk Charts | Worst 27 Charts | Misleading Charts


Participant Contributions:
Public, editable spreadsheet of participant tool contributions. If you use it, please add a tool to the list!

From Mike Reilley,

  1. Venngage for graphics. Great templates, many controls over text and colors.
  2. For social graphics (text over images): Over, Ripl (animated text)
  3. Timelapse: Hyperlapse by Instagram. Great stabilization software in it.
  4. And check out!

From Daniel Schuman:

  1. com — sends you an alert when a site changes (& tells you the change)
  2. com— you can turn a website into an RSS feed (semi-automated scraper)
  3. com — list of all current Congressional Research Service Reports

From Jeff South: Voicebase

Live Editing

Live Editing Opini


Satu Hari di Bulan Februari

Di kelas Penulisan Naskah Digital, saya bereksperimen mengajak mahasiswa membuat creative writing dalam bentuk cerita pendek. Saya minta tiga mahasiswa memilih tiga kata secara bebas. Keluar kata: makan, pakaian, enak.

Saya memanfaatkan Google Docs dan meminta mahasiswa menulis sebuah cerita secara kolaboratif-berantai dengan clue tiga kata tersebut. Masing-masing bisa menuliskan satu hingga lima kalimat. Setelah satu orang selesai, kemudian teman lain melanjutkan sampai semua mendapat bagian.

Raras, mahasiswa terakhyang mendapat giliran terakhir saya minta membuat penutup sekaligus meminta mengedit. Oh, ya. Untuk judul saya minta beberapa orang mengajukan judul dan dipilih secara voting. Judul yang dipilih adalah: Satu Hari di Bulan Februari. Kebetulan ini judul yang diusulkan Raras.

Inilah hasil kerja kolaborasi mereka.

Satu Hari di Bulan Februari (Edited)

Satu Hari di Bulan Februari (Asli)


Penilaian Tugas 1