By Shana Angela S. Cervania
“Walang pera sa Journalism!” has always been exclaimed over and over again not only by many Journalism professors in my three years in UST, but also by other journalists I had the chance of interviewing.
I remember a former journo, who owns a business now, said something along the lines of, “Naku, mahirap ’yan sa suweldo sa industriya. Buti na lang asawa ko [insert high-paying profession] kundi, ’di namin mapapaaral mga anak namin.”
There have been similar anecdotes of journalists quitting the industry, whether a newbie or a veteran, to go for the safety net that corporate work offers.
While the exhilarating newsroom, especially when there is breaking news or the deadline for the printing of newspapers is breathing down everyone’s neck, gets a journalist’s blood pumping, the overworked-yet-underpaid realty will not be enough to sustain the daily needs in life.
With low salary and lack of benefits (save for PR freebies, like gift certificates, but its inconsistency will not save you in times of emergencies), even with years of experience in media work, the meager wage is still inadequate for monthly bills such as electricity, water, food, clothing, tuition, health care, and other necessities.
While it certainly is a thrilling job, gaining more wisdom with every cover; cramming your brain with as much facts as possible about the topic; framing interview questions, then being quick on your feet for follow-ups; the honed skill to still look interested when an interviewee almost finishes a statement for that follow-up question; even repeating a recording over and over and over to make sure sources won’t be misquoted; the nervous excitement and butterflies in the stomach when talking to high-ranking sources; and the unpredictability of it all, I’ll miss it—all of it.
Being a journalist is a very honorable job you do in service for your country, responsibility for the truth, and duty to the public. Such ideals, however, won’t be enough to float your boat unless you have a nice soft cushion provided by your parents.
Because no one pays much for the truth.
Now, I’m a graduating student and contemplating on where to go from here. I got an offer to be a correspondent from a certain publishing company, but only for limited paid covers, most of which, you cover for free, relying on the generosity of the public relations team of the events or companies you’re covering.
I wanted it for experience, but my parents told me—scolded me, rather—that I was agreeing to free work when they spent thousands and thousands of pesos for me to continue studying at this university.
Looking at job postings, there seems to be more income and benefits when working for the corporate industry, such as content writing, copywriting, technical writing, public relations, even call center jobs, instead of work in the journalism world.
So I wish those woke rich kids that do have the power to stay in the media industry to continue to uphold the duties and responsibilities of an honest and principled journalist, and to remember not to give in to trapos as advised by our Journalism professors, no matter how tempting their offers could be.
I also offer this silent prayer, most of all, for their strength and safety when fighting back adversity, especially if they run smack into higher-ups.
a practicing journo in another lifetime. F
Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in Vol. 55, Issue No. 1 of the Flame. View the entire issue through this link.