More than one year ago, I went to a mall on a random Friday night to meet up with my college friends and watch “The Perks of Being a Wallflower”. That day was supposed to be a light day. I was just two weeks old in my job, yet to experience the real ordeal of being a reporter. But before my day at work ended, two reporters who are already in the “real world” oriented me on the much-awaited entry to the field and the beat that I was assigned to cover — Energy.
The two reporters — Miya, who covered the beat for a few years and Danessa, a couple months (who was then leaving her job because of some personal reasons) — gave me a primer and briefed me how a business reporter’s day goes. They explained to me the issues I had to monitor, things I had to study, persons I had to talk to.
The beat was damn unfamiliar to me because it’s just way beyond my comprehension. While as a consumer, utilities like electricity and water, as well as commodities like oil affect me somehow, I’m just unaware how all these stuff go, much more how to deal with these things and make readers understand what the hell is going on.
Miya and Danessa just talked about the beat, inserting side comments and funny anecdotes here and there. But I was overwhelmed that at the end of the discussion, I felt heavy, I wanted to cry, I almost thought of escaping, quitting.
I went to the mall with a blue notebook, some power point presentations and a bunch of calling cards. I met with my friends and shared them my fear. I actually blogged about it right after we watched the movie. See: Dear Friend, Sept. 2012
But I decided to accept the challenge because it hit me that at one point in my bum life, I realized that I really want to practice my degree after all. So that could be my last chance. I took the risk and it was not that easy.
As I have said before, my first days and weeks in the job was filled with angry phone calls from my boss. My articles — even with much effort — seldom come out the printed pages of our newspaper. If they did, I am barely or not at all credited. That was a really hard time, realizing that I was just wasting my efforts trying so very hard, and I felt like I am just not enough. I thought that probably, this was not the world for me.
With the help of the people around me — like Franz who made coping a lot easier and other Bworld kids, as well as my beat mates, all of them, who never got tired of explaining concepts and issues — I was able to understand things and eventually, things got a little clearer for me. Of course, my college friends — especially another Franz and Gel — became my human punch bag. They are superb wonderful.
But of course, I also did my fair share. Even up to now, I spend time to study the issues, take down notes at night after work. I also read my beatmates’ stories to get a better grasp of what’s going on. Before I go to coverages, I prepare a set of questions. I google the officials that are expected to grace events scheduled the next day — to know their positions and their middle initials, and to familiarize myself with their faces. I transcribe interviews done at night and write the draft of the story for the following day.
This is the outcome of the training my boss gave me. I find it funny sometimes that I still google a lot of things. I check names of barangays and municipalities and location of offices and spelling of hotel names. It’s weird and could be a not-so-nice habit, but I do and I think it made me a better reporter in terms of accuracy at the least.
I wouldn’t say that everything is easy now and I understand all of those stuff now. I don’t and in a huge circle of things I should learn, I only know too little that my knowledge appear like a dot. But I think I am more than willing to learn — ready to interrogate officials and annoy them just to make them explain things because I do believe in what my boss always say, that if I don’t understand what I am writing about, then I couldn’t even make the ordinary people and our readers understand what the hell I am talking about.
I am open to dissecting all those regulatory petitions, decisions, orders and resolutions; prepared to unbundle all those twisted information in statements and disclosures; more than willing to question people who talk about things they don’t even understand just for the sake of letting us, reporters, know that they know something and they should be credited for at least knowing something.
My first few months in the job was really hard but somehow, I loved it and learned to appreciate it more than ever. Credit goes, of course, to my boss who is really strict but he never, not once, gave up on me even though sometimes I am just not snappy or smart enough. If he did not make it hard for me from the beginning, maybe I’m still wandering through the rough path with a lot of questions in my head.
And again, all those people around me — who come and went away, and those who are still here. Without them, who will be the outlet of my rants, of my tantrums, of my frustrations as a newbie reporter?
I think I’m okay now. I am more than a year and a month in my job now. Sometimes, tough stories are thrown my way, and sometimes the stress is just too much to bear. But I’m still alive, so it’s not deadly. That actually gives me a reason to try more, because I’m challenged. Sometimes, it’s tiring but at the end of the day, I think what matters is that I like what I’m doing. I just keep on reminding myself that I once dreamed to become a journalist, and now that I am, I should hold on to this until such time that I find the bigger dream, if and only if.
Before I forget, I blogged because earlier this evening, I received a message from my boss and an unexpected one. I know that he has some positive feedbacks on how I improved and how I always try to understand even the most twisted concepts. But his message recognized that I had a really tough time at the beginning with my “highly technical” beat but I somehow soared, in the sense that I now have a good grasp and comprehension on things concerning my beat. It was sweet and really inspiring.
I think I’m ready to face the two overlapping coverages tomorrow. Break a leg. 🙂