As an incoming Journalism senior, I am required to finish 200 practicum hours. I was lucky enough to be admitted in the country’s version of the Asian Wall Street Journal, the Business World. I was assigned to the regular beats, which means that I will have to check on the Philippine Sports Commission, Department of Health, Department of Tourism, and Department of Science and Technology, on my own. Looks like the word trainer does not exist there.

Like any other trainee, I was not happy about it. I did not like the idea of roaming around places without really having an idea of where to go. I did not see finding a news story possible. But then again, I know I should look at this situation positively. Having no trainer means an early practice of full-fledged journalism and of course, having a byline on my own.

Media is the profession that knows no breaks or holidays. Media people are the least concerned with the President’s announcement of a four-day weekend. While most people are on vacation, reporters are on the field, covering events and discussing issues.

On my third day in the practicum, I witnessed how powerful my chosen profession could be. I attended a government press conference in a posh hotel with two other representatives from Business World. I was instructed not to tell anybody in the conference that I was only a trainee. Not telling them so would entitle me to the same privileges professional journalists enjoy.

Opinions mean everything to public figures and officials. They feel that media people should be treated well in order to receive good write-ups. Thinking that way seems maligning the capability of newsmen to think on their own. Journalists will write what they should to write, and that is the truth.

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Of course, we are all aware that some media people still engage in the maladies of the profession, such as “envelopmental” journalism. It is a shame that reporters engage in such practices, but Journalism is not a money-making profession. Reporters will just have to suit themselves to the limitations of the profession. The strength of Journalism lies in what it is capable of doing. Words can breathe life into something inanimate, but sometimes, they can also be deadly.

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Everyone in the newsmaking industry knows if a reporter is new in the field. Therefore, anyone new should make his or her way into the circle. Many reporters from different newspapers covering the same beat usually go together and submit articles almost of the same face, dubbed as pakikisama, while a few brave the odds and look for stories on their own or digs deeper on an issue. No one really knows which kind survives best, but to survive alone, one may need a mask to face the many different kinds of people.

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