Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Journalism & sunshine in my corner of the world

Journalism & sunshine in my corner of the world
by rick olivares

Years ago, I helped produce a recruiting video tool for the Ateneo de Manila University that was titled “Making A World of Difference”. The 13-minute video was used for overseas recruitment and quite honestly, aside from being paid to do it, the best feedback I ever got for producing it was “it has heart”.

What they meant about that was how it captured what it was like being in the university and that it made an emotional connection with the viewer.

Little did I know three years later, I’d be teaching in my school. And what a connection it is!

I thought about doing back some 20 years ago but the opportunity to teach never came my way. I have no regrets because I always maintained that my career in advertising helped me polish my writing, marketing, and public relations skills that are essential to the industry where I guess I made my mark -– in media.

Journalism is its barest bones is reporting news in its various forms. I decided to breeze through its history and theories to instead give my class an immersion into what it is like. After all, experience is the best teacher.

From the start, I never intended the class to be my sole voice. Who wants to listen to someone yakk for three hours anyways? Even the longest Shakespearean soliloquy didn’t last that long. I planned for it to be highly interactive while seeking participation by my class and resource speakers.

New media is constantly redefining not just the way we receive our news and how we present them but also our lives and careers. Blogging used to be a dirty word for the traditionalists but it has increasingly become an alternative medium for news and information.

Not every one in my class will choose a career in journalism but that doesn’t mean that they cannot participate in it. We’ve all seen stories of accidental journalists like basketball vagabond Paul Shirley (who has written a book about his hoop travels and become a website blogger), former pro basketball player and Ateneo Blue Eagle Eric Reyes (do sideline reporting in the PBA and for the last Southeast Asian Games held in Manila), and conflict reporter Kevin Sites (who was largely ignored by the major media outfits until his own enterprising reports landed him prime jobs) to name a few.

As for myself, I would always tape my father’s appearances on television or in newspapers. I wanted to do commercials, write comic books, write the script to that great novel or movie, or be a television reporter. The first time I ever contributed an article to a newspaper just made my day. To see my letters and articles printed in comic books and magazines that I read as a kid was a fanboy dream.

To be able to write, do videos, documentaries, or research material for lawmakers has been a fantastic experience. It has allowed me to meet people some of whom I idolize. It has also brought me to different places and allowed me to experience things I only see on television.

It has always been said that I wear my heart on my sleeve. And well, while that’s both good and bad (and if you know me then you’ll know what I mean) utilizing that zeal to go about my work in media has paid dividends.

With the media industry a competitive one (and with so much politicking), I decided that the best way to put myself out there is to make sure that my work was done well and to make use of the new media out there to get my stories out. It has worked and the days where I felt compelled to drag myself to work are long behind. I’ve been blessed with a career where I know I can make a difference.

And it is with that in mind that is my guiding principle behind my class – that they too can make a difference in this world through journalism.

I live by a few simply precepts – to bring my own sunshine and to start that out in my own corner of the world. I love my work in media and it has allowed me to share both of those in my own corner – my Introduction to Journalism class in Ateneo.

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