I was with a group of journalism students at the University of the Philippines College of Mass Communications. I was invited by Rachel Khan, chairperson of the department of journalism, to speak to her students about online and technology journalism. I also touched on my beat’s birth and history.
I admit it is a refreshing experience. I find today’s students different (generation gap? hehe). After a brief talk, they asked me some very difficult questions. “How do I make sure that stories are not PR?” “How do you write gadget stories?” Some are curious about technology journalists and the beat. I think I gave a mouthful that afternoon. But I learned that most students have limited knowledge of what I do as a technology journalist. They cannot grasp some concepts of technology reporting, which we often take for granted. To put things in perspective, I gave them examples of stories brought a “human face” in technology reports.
I pointed out that technology stories are not about technology only. It is about people, how technology plays a role in their lives. It is not only about sexy gadgets, cool software, vendors, and Microsoft. It is about the impact of technology to today’s society.
When I was still a journalism student in College, I remember using a typewriter to write stories under a punishing deadline. I carried this heavy equipment everyday to school.
Today, I was with students who had access to computers and Internet in class. They have all these tools to do research. I envy them. I had to endure reading newspaper clippings in the library — most of which were photocopied by our own professor.
During my talk, I urged them to consider journalism as a career. It is not lucrative but there are, as my College journalism professor puts it, “psychic income” involved. The fulfillment comes not only after you see your byline. By providing them the right and balanced information , we hope to make a difference in people’s lives, I told them.
It felt good talking to upcoming journalists about my years of in journalism. But I gave them a fair warning of the challenges the lie ahead. As most journalists know by heart, “we’re as good as our last story.”
It is always a challenge to wake up everyday and look for stories that will become relevant to our readers.