Dying breed: A journalese-tic journey
By: Kristine Elizabeth Dihiansan
I reached the end of my journey as a student-journalist, yet I feel I was not able to maximize it. In my case, being a staff of the Journalese was a living manifestation of my lapses as its news editor and as a student-journalist as a whole.
Four years ago, I told myself that whichever course I pass shall determine my career path. I passed in Journalism and my travails to become a better writer began.
The journey was never easy. Journalism professors expect students to have full-knowledge of grammar and journalism per se. They gave out lectures and in-house written exercises, but to no avail. They kept on repeating that Journalism students nowadays will never be at par with the previous generation of Journalism graduates. They made us produce newsletters, magazines, various write-ups, and a web blog but the only closest thing we were able to master was the art of cramming articles.
Brought by this set-up, my friend jokingly quipped before our OJT began that our course must be renamed to newspaper management. I chuckled at the thought because it rings true, since I believe that we never really instilled in ourselves the fundamental journalistic principles a professional writer would need during our four-year stay in the program once thrown out in the world.
Perhaps, those who felt the inadequacy of the program in preparing aspiring journalists decided to apply in campus publications to be well-grounded on the rigors of work. I was one of them.
Beginner’s luck was on my side when I successfully made it into the Journalese on my sophomore year. At first, I thought they checked the right paper but contacted the wrong person or even worse, I wrote the wrong control number in my answer sheet. Journalese was the first student publication I joined in my entire schooling, not to mention that my writing skill was limited.
Nevertheless, I gave my best. I realized soon after that Journalese needs something (or even someone) exceptional to break its “live-die” cycle and to serve the Journalism community. Bulk of the problem lies on the funds made available for the publication, making it hard to release newspaper prints. Motivating the staff to dedicate their time and skills is an offshoot of the problem since their hard work could only be compensated by their bylines when their stories get published. Because of these factors, my eagerness for this publication subsided.
Joining other publications to hone my skills seemed a smart move that I regretted later on. For some reason, it was a trend among co-journalism students to repeatedly prove themselves worthy by getting into various publications, or so I thought. I failed to make it to the Varsitarian’s final leg of screening but I got into the Flame on my junior year as a literary writer. It was through this publication that I was able to tap three sections: news, features, and literary. I could not care less what section I would be assigned, so long as I would learn how to write.
During my last year in college, I was appointed as the Special Reports editor of the Flame and the News editor of the Journalese, consecutively. Juggling two editorial jobs is common among co student-journalists but since I was never good in time management, I spent the bulk of my time and attention to the Flame. I realized later on the real reason aside from my honest excuse – Flame provided me the opportunity to develop my skills which the Journalese alone could not do. As part of this year’s section editors, the blame for the publication’s progress was on our shoulders as efforts to revive this publication remained futile.
With this, I wish to say my sincere apologies to Kuya Andrewly, Ate Aki and Claire-An, Editor-in-Chief for publication years 2009, 2010, and 2011 respectively for not being able to live up to their expectations. To Claire-Ann, believe me when I say that you are still the best man for the job unlike those who chicken out to embrace Journalese in its entirety. Your efforts will bear fruit someday in other forms. To my previous and co-editors, we may have unanimously felt the same sentiments but in the end, we became better writers. We have our whole life ahead of us to prove ourselves worthy of the path we chose to take. Our roads might cross again sometime and by now, success is in our hands.
Looking back, I realized that Journalese is like our nation that has been crippled – not because it lacks promising writers, but because those promising ones venture out to learn elsewhere.
Writers in this publication bear potential in writing. In fact, majority of the writers and editors of this publication also serve as writers and editors of the crème de la crème publication in the University. However, a publication like Journalese becomes the least prioritized among its constituents as other Journalism students opt first to apply in the premier publication – those that can grant them the opportunities they long for.
Unlike other editors I knew who encouraged lower batches to use Journalese as a stepping stone to join premier campus papers, I beg to differ. I would like Journalism students, most especially my writers, Jaimie, Reina, Mara and Randolph, to know one thing – if you want to develop your potential as a budding writer, you can be the best that you can even if you do not join top publications. Going along with the same direction as others is a futile attempt in competing against their skills. You should not compete with others except for yourself. If you want to learn, you should do so at your own pace and learning.
Had I realized this earlier, I would not have joined other publications. Utilizing my skills in the Flame was rewarding but deep within, I knew I should have given back to Journalese the skills I have gained in my 3-year stint working for it, amid declining hopes in its productivity.
With these in thought, I fondly recall my first editorial stint way back when I was still in grade 4. I was editing a manuscript of a friend who initially began writing a story. He was mediocre then and I was better than him. Now, he had successfully published a book containing the same story I was editing roughly 10 years ago, and here I am, a Journalism graduate left behind by a friend taking up Nursing.
I envy my friend, but my admiration for his perseverance was greater to the point that I praise him. To compare my skills to his is pointless, since I am still on my way of finding my niche among writing essays, articles, poems, or short stories.
I wish that my writers would exceed my abilities, just like what my friend did to me. Prove to our Journalism professors that you are better than what they think of you. But before that, you have to prove it to yourself first. My time and opportunity had already passed, but yours has not. Make your final year a learning process. The Journalism curriculum might not be enough, but it should not be used as an excuse either. Do not repeat the mistakes of your seniors, joining all the publications to prove themselves they deserve the slot in the publication in order to be trained.
Finally, to my Journalism batch and the batches to follow after us, we may never be at par with the previous Journalism graduates of this University and I guess we never really cared anyway. We can laugh at people’s prospect of limiting us to broadcasting, public relations, and other media jobs whether we like to end up in media or not. They can always create a trend but we can choose whether to follow or to lead a new one. The new breed of UST Journalism graduates will always find ways to make a mark while carving their path.
The best is yet to come.
Kristine Elizabeth B. Dihiansan
AB-Journalism, batch 2012
Journalese news writer, 2009-2011 Journalese news editor, 2011-2012