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Gold hands of media’s surgeon: Alfian Mujani

By Nia S. Amira

Never thought before if Alfian, who was even expelled from school because he defended his friend who was beaten by the teacher, would became an important man behind the success of some leading media in Indonesia, especially in West, Central Java and East Java.

The third child of a famous Islamic Ulemas, K.H. Usman, leader of Darul Huda Islamic boarding school in Pandeglang, completed his elementary education all the way to high school in Serang and Pandeglang city in Banten province. When he passed high school, Alfian came to Jakarta and worked as an Insurance Sales Agent, then he moved to the island of Kambas, Lampung region Southern part of Sumatra, 4 hours by wooden boat from his hometown in Banten.

It is like flipping the old memory and the young Alfian learned how to make salted fish from the local fishermen, then he sold them to Pandeglang. Only less than a year, Alfian who has a special talent as entrepreneur can collect IDR 2.5 million or USD 185 which was big money at that time and he bought a motorcycle of which he will use it in the future as the transport for getting instant cash from motor racing.

One of his best friends who lives in Solo, Central Java, invited him to study in that well-known cultural city after knowing he did not pass the test for the admission in the State University of Gadjah Mada. Alfian was eager to continue his study and that made him going to Solo, Central Java.

He then started to enjoy his time as a student in the city of Batik, but it was not long until he felt confusing to manage his daily life because his father with 12 children always forgot to send him money until 2 or 3 months late. Alfian tried to find an easy way to earn money to support his life in Solo. Once he sold batik clothes to students from other islands, the results were not as he hoped. Until finally he met with young people who usually race speeding in the Solo Boulevard on Saturdays night. Alfian later became part of the motorcycle ‘gang’ and joined the race speeding who was known as a track-track and he always won in the race. The money from the winning motorbike racing was pretty big and it was the same amount his roommate got from his rich father. Alfian could even pay for his study in two universities at the same city; morning he studied at the Philosophy Department of Sebelas Maret University and by noon he studied Psychology and Education at the University of Muhammadiyah Solo and still he can pay for boarding room and daily living expenses.

Until one day unexpectedly Alfian attended a seminar held by his campus with the special theme; The Thoughts of West and East. When given the opportunity to speak at the seminar, Alfian with his big youth spirit provided exposure that made the audience was surprised because no one thought if there was a student who could give the exposure scientifically about Islam from West and East point of view that was still a taboo to talk about even to discuss at that time.

A week after attending that seminar, someone asked him to write his exposure. Alfian innocently said that he was completely unable to write, but the person reminded him again to write about his presentation. Finally he wrote and gave his writing published in the campus newspaper called Mentari, the mysterious person was Agus Sumianto -newspaper editor who is now retired from junior high school teacher.

Alfian felt honored because of his writings published in campus newspaper and discovered that he had a hidden talent in writing, Alfian began to read books in the university’s library and began to stop motor racing that made his friends were curious of what’s wrong with him. Alfian also had begun ventured to send his writings to Suara Merdeka Newspaper. Of course it gave him more motivation to write because the fees he received were considerable for his monthly expenses and it was not necessary to do motor- racing that made him feeling fatigue.

Thanks to Alfian’s gold hands, Mentari newspaper started to have new cover style and one day when the campus activists held the discussion about corruption which was still a taboo and even if someone dared to talk about it regarded as subversive. At that time Amin Rais, Indonesian senior politician recently completed his studies from the United States and Alfian was in his big curiosity and sensitive to the evolving situation inviting this leader of Muhammadiyah to come to the discussion as one of speakers.

Mentari newspaper became the trending topic amongst the campus in Solo and Central Java because they wrote about the corruption issue and was distributed to its sympathizers without control and was received into the hand of one of House of Representative Members. Not long to wait, Mentari as an only a campus newspaper was banned and Alfian as the Editor in Chief was on trial several times by the rector.

Alfian likes to eat grilled fish as his his favorite food. This low profile man is almost always lucky in the media field. He got several invitations to join important critical media before he joined big media company in Surabaya, East Java only a week after he got married with a Javanese woman without the presence of his parents. One of his friends told him that he was sought by Dahlan Iskan a media boss in East Java who was in need of a journalist with character. With permission from his wife, who was confused because was afraid to be left forever, and that also was the first time when his mother-in-law knew that Alfian did not have a job.  Arriving early morning in Surabaya with a night bus, Alfian directly started working for 2 weeks at Jawa Pos headquarters.

Alfian is destined to recover a dying newspaper back into good condition even more and thanks to his golden hands, Alfian was appointed as Head of Bureau cum the Editor in Chief of Jawa Pos in Jakarta Bureau and 5 years later Dahlan Iskan challenged him to create a community-based newspaper in West Java and it was his real idea giving the name of Radar for this phenomenal chain of a newspaper in Indonesia media history. By using survey tradition derived from Jawa Pos, Radar Bogor greeted its readers at the first time on November 2, 1998 the time when many Asian countries were suffering by monetary crisis but for Radar Bogor, bad news is good news.

Years passed by and in 2002 Alfian was requested to “take care” of the Jawa Pos Television and only 3 years after he joined this TV business, he met his old friend by chance and Alfian joined his friend’s company managing the largest electronic store in Indonesia. Briefly working in the electronic store with very good salary, Alfian felt unhappy because his passion was not there.

He had no job for a couple of years until his friend asked him to help in media business again and that was in 2008.

In the end, a father of two grown-up daughters decided to go back to Bogor and with his colleagues published an online media called inilahbogor.com but his colleague decided to sell this media to the first man in West Java when it reached a significant subscribers’ list. In November 2014, with the motivation and encouragement from his former employees, Alfian published Bogor Today with an estimated circulation continues to grow up to 6,000 copies and dominates nearly 45% of the subscribers in three cities and counties spread out from Bogor, Cianjur and Sukabumi in West Java.

As a new comer, Bogor Today has a big spirit that strengthen the optimism and positive thoughts and with this point of view, Bogor Today still plays its media role as a socially controlling tool. Media can locate itself professionally with a positive energy.

Alfian Mujani, CEO of Bogor Today puts cooperation with agents and newspaper boys in top level realizing that without the support from this front liner, newspaper that is a source of information will not be well disseminated. Bogor Today is able to grow in the middle of tight media competition and Alfian who often makes gathering with his agents and the newspaper boys explained that what has he done was not only to strengthen the communication, but also to give the appreciation and will prepare to establish cooperatives for his agents and front liners. According to Alfian, cooperatives is a pillar of togetherness and able to increase the welfare and living quality of all members and working environment.

Alfian feels very lucky to have loyal agents and newspaper boys who have been assisting him to raise the circulation of his newspaper and also targeted as the reliable performance officials in West Java province especially in Bogor.

As a man behind big media business, Alfian stays low profile and often comes to the important events riding only on a taxi motor. A middle-aged man who is very energetic is kind of a practical person and is not bothered by his social status as the leader of the second largest media in Bogor.

Nia S. Amira is an Indonesian journalist and poet, international affairs expert who specializes in History, Culture & Tourism with focus in Eurasia and Bogor today.

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