By Hilda Austria
JOURNALISM has been my dream profession since my elementary days, although the passion for it was only ignited when I was in college. It was then when I thought it was just about being seen in the television or heard on the radio or reading your name on the newspaper, all about popularity and being “in”.
In one of the seminars I attended before finishing my tertiary education, one of the speakers said the exposure on the television or any other media was part of the salary of the media practitioners. I did not understand that then. Now I understand.
My favorite subject then was Developmental Communication (DevComm), where I learned the greater purpose of being part of the fourth estate. That ignited my passion for journalism as a profession.
In our practicum, we were able to use the power of media to tap government agencies, non-government organizations and individuals to support our project for a certain barangay. We managed to conduct a medical mission with a health seminar for the mothers and parlor games with free gifts for the kids. For us, as students it was a big accomplishment.
I saw that as journalists/ media practitioners, we can be bridges for development, give inspiration to those who have lost faith in the system, herald of good news for a pessimistic society and voice of truth for the minorities and even to the majority.
However, even after more than five years in this profession, I believe I have not yet been in it long enough to lose all my idealism. Although, the fourth estate has its own corrupted system, I chose to believe that many still maintain ethical practice that is expected from us.
Recently, I faced a career crisis where I had to choose whether to change my profession in order to maintain a good pay or to retain my chosen profession and lose an opportunity.
A few months back, a graduating student made her thesis with the PUNCH and I remembered her asking us about the threat of competing with the digital media along with the social networking sites or the internet in general, where anyone can now upload and download information with ease, anyone can now be a medium of information.
I confidently answered her that those were not threats at all since the public will still clamor for credible sources of information, hence, journalists are still in-demand. But today, it I am no longer sure about that claim.
Following these events, I read a blog of a former media practitioner in a giant television network exposing the latter’s irregular employment policy applied by the network to its employees. Despite the network’s reputation of upholding the rights of people, the employees cannot fight for their very own rights because the erring culprit was their own employer.
As for me, I’d like to think that my former employer was just a victim of a dwindling revenues because of “digitalization,” where advertisements are scant like most, and media outlets depend mostly on ad revenues, thus the need for cost-cutting. It was a good company, not perfect but somehow ideal workplace for journalists because political affiliation is not a barrier. I never felt my freedom as a journalist was suppressed, they let me fly, for that I am grateful.
Some said it was an ill-advised decision to leave it, some saddened by my lost opportunity. Perhaps I made a bad decision but deep in my heart I know I am happy because I would still get to have an adrenaline rush and excitement every time I have a new story to write or feel that frustration each time someone else got a good scoop, and I didn’t.
I will still have a reason to watch the national news, interview people regularly and write stories knowing I will be the primary source for the news report.
How long will I be part of the fourth estate, only God knows, but wherever he brings me I trust in His promise that “His plans are to prosper me and not to harm me, plans to give me hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11).