The Financial Times is looking for an enterprising and energetic reporter to cover Indonesia, a sprawling archipelago of more than 17,000 islands with the world’s fourth-largest population, along with several other important economies in south-east Asia. Reopening an FT bureau in Jakarta, the correspondent will establish our coverage in the minds of editors and readers via sharp news judgement, insightful analysis and elegant writing on a country bursting with new stories to discover.
Indonesia had a good pandemic. Buoyed by high commodity prices, it has made a quick return to 5 per cent growth. President Joko Widodo, widely known as Jokowi, has an approval rating north of 70 per cent, but the country is a real democracy – campaigning is already heating up for next year’s presidential election. Important themes for coverage include religion, with tension between moderate and radical Islam; regional development beyond the main population centre of Java; and the fate of the “omnibus law”, a labour market reform much sought after by the business community.
There are big business stories to cover as well. Indonesia is a crucial source of commodities including bauxite, palm oil, coal and natural gas, as well as nickel, which is in hot demand for electric vehicle batteries. The Jokowi government is determined to move up the value chain and has banned exports of some raw commodities; it is also reforming its many state-owned enterprises. Indonesia is a large and growing consumer market and an important source of profits for Jardine Matheson, through its control of the Astra conglomerate.
Indonesia is the core of the job but the correspondent will also pick up coverage of Vietnam, where two decades of rapid growth have transformed the economy, and the Philippines, where Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos has restored the family dynasty as president. Jakarta hosts the headquarters of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. Asean is slowly deepening trade and diplomatic integration across a region caught uneasily between China and the US.
The job calls for a resourceful journalist who can spot the FT stories and themes in an often misunderstood region where securing access to sources requires patience and tenacity. News is the heart of the job – and you will find strong demand from FT editors – but we want and expect the correspondent to write across a range of formats, from sharp analysis to magazine features. There is scope for travel. You may also be asked to represent the FT at events and in the media.
The core of the job is writing and reporting. While Indonesia and the wider region are full of fascinating stories, few of them are on-diary, so the role needs an active and self-starting journalist who will go out and find ideas. Your enthusiasm will also persuade editors – who may not be familiar with the subject matter – to give your stories the prominence they deserve.
We are looking for a reporter who can scout out these stories and project them into all parts of the paper and website, including the world, companies and analysis sections as well as the Weekend FT. Strong reporting experience and affinity for FT themes such as business and finance are highly desirable. You should be able to write in all the formats that make up the FT, from strong spot news to deft analysis on a range of subjects.
Good communication skills are important. You should regularly pitch ideas to editors in Hong Kong and deliver copy when promised. You should also be collegiate: close collaboration with colleagues across Asia is a central part of the FT’s culture and will be vital to your success.
The reporting and living environment in Southeast Asia requires a degree of resilience. Governments in the region maintain a varying level of control and monitoring over the media. Access to information may be difficult at times and the job calls for sound judgement about sources and stories. Indonesian language skills are desirable but not essential.
Please submit your application by the end of the day, 9th March 2023.
To apply, go here.