Tuesday, September 25, 2007
Top Five Reasons Why You Shouldn’t be a Journalist in the Philippines
Last week, Jarius Bondoc, the journalist responsible for partly exposing the anomalous National Broadband Network deal started receiving death threats. Sigh. His experience is another example yet again of why you shouldn’t be caught holding a pen or a tape recorder in the Philippines. Here are my other top reasons for avoiding the field of journalism.
1.) The Facts
In a country where politicians each have storage bins of alternative faces, excuses and reality based fairytales, the facts are never what they seem. Write a story today and expect to have to write a contradictory account the next day. Search for the NBN deal online for example and you are sure to get thousands of updated and revised stories enough to fill the days of a prisoner on a life sentence or enough to kill the brain cells of top political analysts.
2.) The Distinction
There is nothing like reading your name on your first by-line and knowing that thousands of people around the country are either using your words to incite sedition or wrap dried fish with. Of course, in the Philippines, this is not the only form of distinction that journalists can hope to enjoy. Hit hard long enough and you might just find your face pasted on a black cardboard with red letters that say M-I-S-S-I-N-G or D-E-A-D.
3.) The Excitement
Sure. Journalists get to rub elbows with the most distinguished international personalities. They also get to be on the front row of the most important world events. Filipino journalists however also have the added excitement of anticipating whether yesterday’s short message sender will really be waiting at the entrance to the office with a .45.
4.) The Pay
Well I suppose journalists who work for national outfits really do get reasonable salaries. The majority of provincial journalists however, who get killed more often probably even don’t have enough cash to buy coffee and cookies for their wake.
5.) The Reaction
Yes, the Filipino public is outraged but so many journalists get killed every year that the expressions of shock after hearing of another death has become similar to a prerecorded tape that gets shown after every fresh killing.
Well, it’s not a pleasant scenario which makes people like Mr. Bondoc all the more admirable. Let's hope he can dodge another bullet.