Tougher days for journalism ahead

By: Ryan Macasero December 31,2016 - 05:00 PM



In this year’s 2016 Career Cast report, newspaper reporter had been ranked the worst job in the United States, a consistent ranking for the profession in the job site’s annual anticipated report.  This is the 3rd time journalist had ranked the worst profession in the annual report.

The report said, “a gradual decline in print publications at the turn of the century became a steep downturn for the past decade. Publications folding mean far fewer job, and declining ad revenue means unfavorable pay for those in the Fourth Estate.

Media in the Philippines face these same issues on an even more intense scale with lower salary standards and difficult labor conditions.

Social media’s challenge

With the rise of Rodrigo Duterte’s social media volunteers, trolls, bots, or whatever may have driven his online following – the erosion of trust in professional journalists and media institutions has accelerated.

At first, I found the potential social media had to empower communities and journalists exciting. The emergence of new social media platforms meant more avenues to build communities and potential for media outlets for monetization. Social media has also changed the relationship between journalists and readers by providing a medium for instantaneous feedback. I consider this a good thing, except when it is abused by bullies, trolls and bots, which is beginning to happen more frequently.

To quote a pooled editorial by Cebu’s community press last 2016 Press Freedom Week, “It is credibility that mainly measures a journalist to the very last ounce of his or her true worth.”

The essence of journalism is the discipline of verification. The rise of fake news makes this basic skill more important now than ever before.

Fake news disguises itself better now than it did then in 2013. In the past six years I’ve been a journalist, I’ve learned that it doesn’t take decades for change. Change has already come and is happening every day, for better or worse.

And it during times likes these where good journalists are especially needed.

Why journalism?

Good journalists must be there in times when the political climate becomes oppressive for free speech. We need journalists who have the audacity to demand answers from public servants, and ones with the integrity to say no to corruption.

In times when people are losing confidence in media institutions, we need journalists who are unafraid to engage readers to find out why it’s happening – and figure out what to do about it.

When media companies struggle to accept that old business models no longer work, that it might be wise to look to the millennials to figure out how it’s done.

When I decided six years ago that journalism would be the profession I would dedicate my life to, I had no idea where it would take me.

Journalism certainly hasn’t taken me to a place of luxury and wealth. And some months, I have more bad days than good ones. But journalism, to me, means much more than a few bad days and having only enough money to eat at the canteen instead of a fancy restaurant sometimes.

Journalism has given me a sense of purpose, meaning and a life full of adventure. In the past year, I’ve covered the campaign rallies of every presidential candidate. I’ve had a front row seat to some of this nation’s most historic events, and have been given the opportunity to interview some of the most inspiring Filipinos from around the world. I’ve been given license to create, innovate and lead in the newsroom, an opportunity not afforded to most journalists just starting in the industry. These are indeed tough times for journalism, and there will be tougher days ahead. But is it the worst job in the world? It is definitely not. It is a tough profession to be in, but one that has rewarded me with a life rich in experience and adventure. For me, to be a journalist today is an honor and a privilege.

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