Surviving the Digital Era: Tebet’s Remaining Paperman

Jakarta. Neither the pandemic nor the digital era can stop Tebet’s oldest paperman, Suyoto, from delivering newspapers to people’s doorsteps every morning.

Since 1998, Suyoto has been pedaling his old bicycle around the Tebet area in South Jakarta. Every day, he would leave his house in Kramat Jati at 4.00 a.m. to pick up the newspapers from his agent in North Tebet.

His old, worn-out bike has become a loyal companion throughout his journey in keeping people updated on current events.

Suyoto, 68, poses with his bike in Tebet, South Jakarta. (JG Photo/Yudha Baskoro)
Suyoto, wearing mask, delivers a newspaper in Tebet, South Jakarta. (JG Photo/Yudha Baskoro)
Suyoto with his mask delivers newspapers in Tebet, South Jakarta. (JG Photo/Yudha Baskoro)

“The bike has accompanied me since 2002. The saddle has peeled off, so it has to be patched with a plastic bag. Maybe if someone had not stolen my bike when I was performing the sunset prayer [or Maghrib], I would not have changed my jengki [or Yankee-styled] bike until today,” Suyoto said.

Unfortunately, digital transformation has taken a toll on his income. 

The 68-years old father of four admits his income has declined since ten years ago as more people now look for information online. Even so, he never felt quitting the job that had sent all his kids to school.

“The job paid little. When Kompas, Warta Kota, and Suara Pembaruan were still on the top, I could earn Rp 1.5 million (around $101) per month. Since everyone now has cellphones, I only earn Rp 500.000 to Rp 1 million a month,” Suyoto said.

He now relies on the remaining loyal readers who have subscribed for the next four to five years.

Suyoto wraps his bikes saddle with a plastic bag. (JG Photo/Yudha Baskoro)
A plastic-wrapped saddle. (JG Photo/Yudha Baskoro)
Suyoto drinks a mineral water as he takes a rest during his daily routine in Tebet, South Jakarta. (JG Photo/Yudha Baskoro)
Suyoto takes a breather before continuing his deliveries. (JG Photo/Yudha Baskoro)
Suyoto rides his bicycle as he delivers a news paper in Tebet, South Jakarta. (JG Photo/Yudha Baskoro)
Suyoto on his bike which has accompanied him since 2002. (JG Photo/Yudha Baskoro)
A man buys a newspaper from Suyoto. (JG Photo/Yudha Baskoro)
A man buys a newspaper from Suyoto. (JG Photo/Yudha Baskoro)

“Thank God, my customers are good and lasting. They have subscribed to my service for ten years. They even told me that if it was not me who delivers the newspaper, they don’t want to subscribe or read a newspaper,” he said.

Suyoto throws a newspaper to a customers home in Tebet, South Jakarta. (JG Photo/Yudha Baskoro)
Suyoto throws a paper to the front door. (JG Photo/Yudha Baskoro)
Suyoto puts a brand new newspaper on a display in a cafe at Tebet, South Jakarta. (JG Photo/Yudha Baskoro)
A brand new newspaper for a cafe in Tebet. (JG Photo/Yudha Baskoro)
Suyoto, 68, the remaining paperboy in Tebet, South Jakarta, poses for The Jakarta Globe. (JG Photo/Yudha Baskoro)
Suyoto poses for The Jakarta Globe. (JG Photo/Yudha Baskoro)

Suyoto is also a newspaper reader himself. He enjoys reading Suara Pembaruan and sports news summaries on Kompas daily.

“I haven’t read Suara Pembaruan for months. I can’t find it in my agent. I don’t know if it’s still published or not,” he said.

JAKARTA GLOBE

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