I should be happy now that I’m doing what I have always wanted to do. But I can’t help but think of the terrible news we have been writing about. I don’t believe in the idea of having/being a “jinx” but ever since I started writing news, really bad things started to happen in the country — monthly.
In August, there was flooding caused by the “habagat” that inundated Metro Manila and nearby provinces. In September, the Zamboanga City clashes between government forces and the Moro National Liberation Front. In October, the Bohol quake, which also hit Cebu and other areas in Visayas and Mindanao. And in November came supertyphoon “Yolanda,” which washed out many villages and killed thousands of people.
Guiuan, Eastern Samar two weeks after supertyphoon “Yolanda” (Haiyan) devastated the region with its terrifyingly strong winds and deadly storm surges.
What is happening to our country?
These do not even include the incessant media killings and blatant assassinations. Just a while ago, at least four people were killed at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA). Meanwhile, politicians waste time mudslinging instead of tending to policies and laws that will improve the lives of many people.
I don’t know if I’m just more sensitive now because I monitor the news almost everyday but even the old people say that things are getting worse. I can imagine that it will continue to happen until…until change happens. Hopefully.
In the meantime, I ponder…Is this a good time to be a journalist? No. If you think about the killings and the lies and the lack of accountability in the government. But also Yes. If you’re going to write and report about the truth (the real truth, not the ones peddled by a few) and the real situation of the people on the ground. Yes. If you are going to be part of a group that is not afraid to question the status quo. If you are someone who is determined to explain the news to the reader, to enlighten the public.
It is a perfect time to be a journalist because it is a perfect time for change.
(If you are not for change then what are you writing for?)
It has only been less than five months and I feel that I’ve been through a year of stories. I have been learning a lot and I expect to learn more in the years to come. There are days when I love the challenge, others when I fear it. But I have also learned to embrace that fear and use it to my advantage.
To be honest, I am scared of what will happen next year. I am afraid to fail. I am afraid that I would get lost. Almost everyday I wonder if what I did was right. If I wrote that story the way that it should be. If I let myself be used unwittingly by spin doctors.
We are always chasing stories. Sometimes we are running so fast we fail to read between the lines.
I am young. I have my faults. But I’d like to think that I am not that naive.
It is true. We are the bearers of bad news. We count the dead in our stories — reducing the heroes, the brave, the martyrs and even the criminals (poor and rich) to mere statistics. But it doesn’t have to be that way always. Many claim to be objective, to the point of being indifferent. But I would also like to think that the straight facts and clear language that we use make people feel something about the news.
I’d like to think that we write about those things not for the shock value or the controversy or the views but for people to draw lessons and strength from it.
We are the bearers of bad news but I hope that will push people into doing something good.
P.S. If you’re a new reader, you should understand that I tend to write based on my stream of consciousness. I seldom edit myself when I write in a blog. But sometimes I do revise my work for the sake of clarity.
Some readings: The Story of 2013, Our Road Trip to Ground Zero (coming soon)