Legendary Newspapers Denny JA Collections

Bintang Timor - Surabaya

by JJ Rizal

Bintang Timor, the newspaper led by J.Z. van den Berg, published in Surabaya, is clearly a pioneer newspaper in the Dutch East Indies. This four-page newspaper, published every Wednesday with a circulation of between 400 and 600 copies. It contains news of events in and around the Dutch East Indies and Singapore. This newspaper also published the prices of commodities in the Singapore market, such as gambier, opium, spices, cotton and yarn for the needs of traders. He opened the “News from Mail” section, in the form of foreign news from Europe, China, and other countries. In addition, this newspaper also quoted news extracts from the Dutch-language Javasche Courant, including news from the government and the colonial bureaucracy of the Dutch East Indies.

Initially, the newspaper published by Gimberg Brothers & Co. on May 10, 1862 was named Bintang Timoor with a double "o". Gimberg Brother & Co. was originally a distributor agent for the Slompret Melajoe newspaper, which was published in Semarang in the early 1860s. In the 1860s. Bintang Timoor underwent an orthographic change in their letterhead to Bintang Timor. Bintang Timor's coverage mostly serves East Java business circles. However, its circulation reaches other cities outside East Java, even as far as Sumatra and Makassar.

In 1868, L. Magniez and O. Th. Schutz led Bintang Timor and made major changes, which was more interested in highlighting topics related to small people such as: poverty, the extortion of the underprivileged in the villages by the colonial apparatus, and the soaring price of rice. However, rising printing prices forced Bintang Timor to increase its subscription price The increase in printing prices made Bintang Timor increase the subscription fee from the previous 15 gulden per year in Surabaya and 17 gulden outside Surabaya. Bintang Timor then omitted the one-year subscription package and only half-year subscription packages were available, with the price then being 10 gulden per 6 months in Surabaya and 12 gulden per 6 months outside Surabaya. Of course, this price makes the subscription fee expensive if you want to take one year, because a year means 20 gulden in Surabaya and outside Surabaya to 22 gulden per year.

The economic depression of the 1880s due to the sudden fall in the prices of coffee and sugar, made banks and trading partners threatened with bankruptcy. This caused many newspapers published since 1875 to die. Bintang Timor is one of the survivors. However, the drag of advertising due to the paralysis of the business world, finally forced Gimberg Brother & Co. in 1887 to declare bankruptcy and death. Bintang Timor, who has been active for 24 years, was finally taken over with a price tag of 24,600 gulden by Baba Tjoa Tjoan Lok, a rich Chinese from Surabaya. This event marked the beginning of the Chinese entering the newspaper business in the Dutch East Indies.