OurIndonesia – Raden Mas Djokomono Tirto Adhi Soerjo (1880-1918) is a prominent figure in the history of Indonesian press. He came from an aristocratic family. His father, his grandfather and his brothers had a good position in The East Indies government. He studied in prestigious schools, at HBS (Hoogere Burher School) and STOVIA (School Tot Opleiding Van Inlandsche Artsen). Not many native Indonesians received this privilege.
Although coming from an aristocratic family, Adhi Soerjo was quite concerned with social life of his surrounding. He founded organization, which he used for spreadaing political aspiration of the natives. He tried to raise public awareness on their condition under the Dutch colonial government.
Due to his packed social activities, Adhi Soerjo did not finish his school. But he had quite a successful career in journalism. He was appointed as Chief Editor of Pemberita Betawi, a Jakarta-based newspaper in the colonial era.
In 1903, he left Pemberita Betawi and founded a new newspaper called Soenda Berita. The paper focused on covering the issues of agriculture, trade, health and legal issues. Through Soenda Berita, Adhi Soerjo built connections with regents in Central Java and Madura. Eventually, he established Serikat Prijaji, a move that he used to build another paper called Medan Prijaji.
Medan Prijaji played a significant role in journalism in the pre-independence Indonesia. Its policy to let as many people as possible to contribute in the paper made the paper a window for the natives to complain about the problems that they face during the colonial times. Human rights violition by the colonial government had often become the headline of the paper. Under Adhi Soerjo, Medan Prijaji has mediated and settled more than 225 cases.
Arguably, Adhi Soerjo was the first person and the first journalist who built newspaper as a medium of propaganda and resistance against the otoritarian rulers.
In addition to Medan Prijaji, Adhi Soerjo built several other newspapers such as Soeloeh Keadilan (1907), Poetri Hindia (1909), Soeara BOW, Soeara Spoor, Soeara Pegadaian, and Sarotomo. (Joko Arizal)