Journalism: Looking at the Roof from the Basement

MONDAY will be the last of two lectures I and fellow BusinessMirror
newspaper reporter Villy Cabuag would give to a class of junior
journalism students of the University of Sto, Tomas.
It is, indeed, ironic since just when I was beginning to like giving a
lecture, it had to end. Some good things never last, as the cliché
It's not the money that makes giving the lecture a good thing. The only payment we get is booze and food paid out of the hallowed pockets of UST Professor Jeremaiah Opiniano.

[Photo shows Professor Opiniano and reporter Cabuag preparing slide presentation at Rm. 204 of the UST. Photo by dde/Sep. 15, 2010.]

Half-dragging us out of the beer table, Jeremaiah –the only one sober among a pack of hungry, beer-thirsty, and fat-packed reporters– thought our experience as journalists is credible enough to subject
third year students to the whimsical wisdoms of two dork-looking guys.
Though mistaken, we avoided giving Jeremaiah a heartache, so we indulged him, foolishly believing that journalism professors are half-serious in teaching.
What we shared last September 15 to his Wednesday evening class we generally would repeat tonight at 7:30 p.m.
Villy is expected to cite his experience in covering the beat –the routine and the lack of it, as well as offer some tips for those who are crazy enough like us to tread the path we've taken.
Villy's lecture would hopefully prepare the students who will go on an internship prior to their climb to senior year.
I also plan to make the students answer three multiple-choice format questions I asked the students the other night. To wit:

1. I want to become a journalist because: (a) I want to be famous; (b)
It's the easiest way to earn; (c) It looks like a cool job; (d) I want
to change society; (e) all of the above; and, (f) none of the above.
2. I'll be good in journalism because: (a) I have the looks; (b) I'm
talented; (c) I'm gung-ho; (d) I have the heart for it; (e) all of the
above; and, (f) none of the above.
3. A successful journalist is (a) famous and well-known; (b) rich;
(c) hard-working; (d) ___________ (place any name here); (e) all of
the above; and, (f) none of the above.

Basically, the questions provide a self-exercise (a) to allow students
to check their motivation; (b) to see their views on journalists; and,
(c) as a segue to my discussion points.
These discussion points became more relevant at the gab fest of
journalists called MediaNation at the Taal Vista Lodge, Tagaytay, over
the weekend.
Sponsored by the Asia Foundation and the US Embassy in the
Philippines, the conference was participated by journalists of all
shapes and sizes, types of media, and stature: from the diva to the
deviants; from the old hands to the heading old; and, from the
Manila-based to the barrio-mastered.
The point I emphasized, which Atty. Raul Pangalangan thanked me for
expressing, is the power structure involved, regardless of new or old
Filipino journalists, based on my experience in the field, are at the
mercy of their owners and the market.
Aside from keeping faithful to their profession, Filipino journalists
have to strive harder to avoid getting co-opted by the system or,
because they refuse to do so, getting axed.
As I recommended to Jeremaiah's students, journalists have to develop
their market value to at least have leverage in achieving the lofty
levels of professionalism.
Nonetheless, there were two good points raised during the 2-day
MediaNation Conference that I may add in my lecture Monday: developing
the collective market value of journalists at the bottom of the
pyramid and getting by with the cards dealt.
By doing so, I hope, our professionalism will save us and ultimately
save the profession.

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