Friday, May 10, 2013

Five Years in the 5th Worst Job in the World, and I have no regrets!

Five years of God’s faithfulness and goodness in the workplace. Five years of testing, trial and triumph. Five years of enduring, enjoying and engaging with people, with facts, with stories. Five years of both heart-warming and heart-breaking realities of events, of lives. Five years of unwavering hope, inspiration and public service. Five years, and counting.

This is the job that I prayed for and wanted to do. Initially, I just wanted to write. But I was given the rare opportunity not only to write, but also to be heard and seen, through the audio-visual medium. I am a broadcast journalist, and I love being one.
 A survey by CareerCast in 2012 ranked being a journalist as the fifth-worst job to have and become. The stress, the irregular working hours, the not-so-high compensation, the excruciating waiting discipline requirement, and yes, the pressures from the management! These and all other points may be true. But seeing the other side of the coin, becoming a journalist, at least on my part, proves to be one of the most fulfilling, rewarding and challenging jobs to have, ever!

I have experienced amazing and countless moments of “first times” because of my job. All these were free of charge, only guts to pay. For the first time, I was able to ride in a helicopter during my extensive marijuana eradication coverage in the hinterlands of Cordillera. After touching almost the clouds and the heavens, I then submerged myself somewhere at the bottom of the sea for an underwater coverage. It was my first time then to scuba dive, and I always get excited whenever there’s a chance for an underwater coverage. Work should be fun!
I get to eat foods I have never tasted before. I get to travel to places I have never imagined to discover. I get to meet and greet celebrities and high-profiled personalities. So? Well, I have never earned and received money from them, but we call it psychological income! And all these boost our confidence!

It was my first time to be bribed by people of hidden interest. But through God’s grace, He preserved me, and still is preserving me to have clean hands. One can live right and clean in this industry marred also by lies and corruption. We also have to police our very ranks.

It will take some pages to put into details all my first times. But definitely, these first times were repository of lessons and knowledge, of experience and realities, of hope and joy, of courage and discipline. More importantly, these first times were springboard for the second, third and countless times of new learning. Not only the unfolded events that grant insights but also the various stories and pleas of people I have come to meet along the way.

Street sweepers have their stories to tell. They earn from our trashes, but they despise our garbage. Beggars wander night and day, but they remain homeless and voiceless. Prostituted men and women hide from the shadow of immorality because there is lack of covering and comfort, of opportunity to earn through a decent job. They need real love and respect. Corruption still exists, injustice still prevails, but only a few stands straight and principled. Poverty issues are favorite topics, yet there is not much action being taken to address it. Or actions are just too slow .

Accidents, crime, victims of abuses, and yes, disasters! These fall under the category of hard news. Sometimes, these are indeed hard to swallow. These are difficult to cover. You need to be immersed; you need to be there on-site to contextualize your stories. I need to be sensitive and responsible even more. I need a heart to empathize and a mind to comprehend the real score of the story. I need to be really human in dealing with people. They, too, are humans with feelings and emotions, with soul and spirit.
In journalism, particularly in broadcast media, I am challenged to exercise the responsibility and power it holds. In the Philippines where media is considered to be the “Fourth State,” my role as a member of that imperfect yet influential institution is very vital. Whatever stories that I report, people generally believe them to be true and factual. Therefore, I consider my job as an expression, not only of my passion, but also of my high regard towards truth, good governance, transparency, and other significant advocacies.

Journalists are heralds, both of good and bad news. As a media practitioner for five years, I wish and hope that I have become a herald of TRUTH, good or bad news that might be.