I am Viriya Paramita Singgih, a Jakarta-based writer and reporter. Like many others, my writing journey is closely related to my reading journey since childhood.
I spent countless hours reading only manga when I was in elementary school, before, one day in 2000, my father brought home J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. I devoured, and fell in love with it. From that point on, I started expanding my reading pool, including by reading children’s novels such as Emil of Lönneberga by Astrid Lindgren.
Nevertheless, it was not until high school that I began to develop an interest in writing, all thanks to Adhitya Mulya and Raditya Dika’s comedy books. After reading their works, I plucked up the courage to kick off a blog and start sharing my daily experiences and thoughts.
I then decided to study journalism at Universitas Multimedia Nusantara (UMN), a private university owned by media and publishing company Kompas Gramedia Group. I initially dreamed of becoming a sports reporter, which I thought would be a perfect combination of my two passions: football and writing. But little did I know that my four years on campus would change everything.
During my journalism studies, I had the opportunity to meet and interview a wide range of people – whether a child beggar, artist, or lawmaker, and write stories on Indonesia’s social and political issues. Furthermore, I was also forced to read widely in order to keep abreast of new developments, enrich my point of view, and gain exposure to various examples of good writing.
All of these made me realize that my true passion was actually for journalism, not for football or writing per se. I wanted to be a good journalist, the fact-based storyteller that the public could rely on.
Right after I graduated from the university at the end of 2013, I joined the newly founded GeoTimes weekly magazine. Since the beginning, I was tasked with writing features on different issues, including public policy and human rights, as well as reviews on visual and performing arts.
I, along with fellow reporter Tito Dirhantoro, was then assigned to cover the journey of 12 people volunteering as teachers in remote regions in Papua. Our reports were published in a book entitled Ayo Sekolah, Papua! (literally translated as Let’s Go to School, Papua!) in 2014.
I resigned from GeoTimes in early 2015 to be a freelance writer and theater practitioner. My background as a theater performer with local group KataK since 2010 paved way for me to teach theater at several private schools in Jakarta. I also started freelance writing for a number of online publications, including film studies and criticism site Cinema Poetica, football news and analysis site Pandit Football, and the currently-inactive longform journalism site Pindai.
In the same year, I won a grant from Pindai to publish a book entitled Menjejal Jakarta: Pusat dan Pinggiran dalam Sehimpun Reportase (literally translated as Cramming Jakarta: The Center and Periphery in Reportage), which is an anthology of reportage about people living in and around Indonesia’s capital.
I joined The Jakarta Post, Indonesia’s leading English news outlet, in January 2016, as I sought to hone my English writing skills. After six months working as a cub reporter, I was posted to the business desk in July. As a result, I was forced to learn things I previously had zero interest in, including about the stock market, banking sector, and manufacturing industry.
Surprisingly, my performance was deemed satisfactory and I became a permanent business reporter starting in October 2016. I was eventually assigned to cover energy and mining. For about 1.5 years, I regularly wrote stories on electricity, oil and gas, as well as mining commodities.
Then, my capability to break news was recognized by Bloomberg News, and I was hired by the wire service in mid-2018 mainly to cover the Finance Ministry, Bank Indonesia, and the Presidential Palace. I gained valuable experience during my time with Bloomberg, as I had the opportunity to cover various major events, including the divestment of the mining giant Freeport McMoran’s shares in its local unit in Indonesia, the 2019 presidential election, and the capital city relocation.
However, I decided to resign from Bloomberg at the end of 2019 to become a freelancer once again. After 3.5 years covering business and economics, I thought it was the right time to start specializing in what I was most passionate about: arts, culture, and human-interest issues.
In November 2020, I was invited by Evi Mariani, a former managing editor at The Jakarta Post, to take part in a public service journalism initiative called Project Multatuli. I agreed to join the team as I was excited with the project’s idea of giving a voice to the voiceless and publishing in-depth reports. This initiative was launched in May 2021, and ever since then, I have been working there as a full-time journalist.