For young people who wish to become news reporters, there are no shortcuts, formulas and guarantees. Luck may be a factor. But so are persistence, patience and passion. We all have unique individual trails. The footsteps of others should only serve as a guide but you have to make your own way.
I’m not an expert. But I learned from kind people who shared their lessons with me when I started as a TV news reporter for GMA News in 2012. Before this, I was already working for the news organization behind the scenes for three years, starting as a news researcher in 2009.
I avoided working in news after I graduated college in 2007. I took Broadcast Communication in UP Diliman and I learned well that news work can cause a lot of stress. When strong storms make their landfall, the members of the welcoming committee are journalists! I just wanted a normal life.
But I’m also stubborn, adventurous and curious. In 2009, I joined GMA News after two previous jobs (as a video game reviewer and as a Congressional staff).
A researcher must propose stories and case studies for the producer or reporter and to provide the context of story pitches. One should be adept at locating necessary documents for reference, coordinating with contacts for video shoots and anticipating problems in logistics and permits
But there was a rough courtship before this love affair. During my first researcher assignment, I honestly had no idea how to do my work well. The project was Biyaheng Totoo, a series of special reports on the ten poorest provinces of the Philippines in 2010. I visited five of these places, alone for three days per location — Apayao, Misamis Occidental, Zamboanga del Norte, Maguindanao and Tawi-Tawi.
The news teams all had senior reporters (Kara David, Sandra Aguinaldo, Michael Fajatin, Connie Sison and Jun Veneracion). They needed my research before their deployment to the provinces in order to save the time. It was my baptism of fire. I committed many errors and learned a lot of lessons. But it was worth it. Biyaheng Totoo 2010 won a Silver World Medal during the 2011 New York Film Festivals.
In 2010, I received a promotion as a segment producer for 24 Oras, the primetime newscast of the network. If you check the tasks of a segment producer below, it’s almost the same as that of a news reporter. The key difference is that an SP can’t appear in one’s own report. A reporter must do the voice-over for the script.
At the same time, I applied for the position of news reporter. I knew I was too young and raw but I still auditioned when there was an opening. Ultimately, I didn’t make it. But instead of moping, I forgot about my application and focused on my work as an SP. I kept working and learning. Whether I was a reporter or not, I enjoyed my work. It gave me VIP seats to daily events that became part of our history.
Segment producers should still research and propose stories for the newscast but they can now direct the look and feel of video shoots. They interview important personalities and resource persons as well. More importantly, they write news scripts and supervise its editing.
2011 marked the birth of GMA News TV. I was part of the core team that started the flagship newscast State of the Nation with Jessica Soho. By the end of the year, typhoon Sendong devastated Cagayan de Oro. Jessica Soho immediately went there to cover the aftermath of the disaster; I joined the delegation as her field producer.
She returned to Manila after a day and left her news team under my guidance. The news bosses in Manila instructed me to do my own reports in Cagayan de Oro and to use my own voice and name — even though I wasn’t really a reporter. As luck would have it, I scored an exclusive report about the arrival of the Aquino sisters in the province. This was my first ever report.
In 2012, we covered the impeachment trial of Chief Justice Renato Corona. From the start of the proceedings in January to the rendering of the verdict in May, we had our news operations in a tent outside the Senate. This experience honed my appreciation for each and every aspect of news production from the planning stages, the interaction with high profile personalities, the adrenaline rush to break the latest developments and the integral role of every member of the team.
I also compiled the funny and memorable highlights of the trial and produced a series of three Assignment Pilipinas segments for State of the Nation with Jessica Soho. The Program Manager and the Executive Producer also allowed me to voice my masterpiece; I dubbed it as Coronavela.
After the impeachment trial, one of my superiors asked me if I’m still interested to be a news reporter. Initially, I had apprehensions because I was already having fun as a segment producer. But this was also a new challenge and a manifestation of their trust in my abilities. I guess you know what answer I gave them.
[Entry 10, The SubSelfie Blog]
Editor’s Note: These were his adventures during his first year at work — Reporter Notes: Year One
About the Author:
Bam Alegre is the founder of SubSelfie.com and writes from time to time as a guest contributor. He is a News Reporter for GMA News (2012) and an Instructor for the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of the East (2015). He was also part of the team that won GMA News the prestigious George Foster Peabody Award for the news coverage of super typhoon Yolanda (2013). Previously, he worked behind the scenes as a Segment Producer for State of the Nation with Jessica Soho and 24 Oras (2009-2012). He is also the vocalist, pianist and guitarist of the band No Parking (2005). BA Broadcast Communication 2007, UP Diliman. Read more of his articles here.