Monday, May 05, 2008

Tech and my life as a freelance journalist

When I was starting out in professional journalism almost two decades ago, I remember walking the length of Ayala Avenue (our Wall Street) and trying to sniff out news and do interviews to meet my two-stories-a-day quota for the business paper I was working for then. A pen, a notebook, and a dependable microcasette recorder were all I needed, with a dash of kapalmuks (confidence, in other words).

By 3 p.m, I would board the bus back to Greenhills and be on my desk by 4 p.m. Then I would type away my stories using Wordstar on the desktop running on MSDOS. I'd save my stories on a floppy disk then hand over the disk to my editor. The floppy disk would go to another editor after her, after which my story is included in the page layout for the next day. Copy editors and proofreaders will go over the proofs.

Now that it's 2008, my life has definitely become easier. Requests for interviews are done by e-mail, mostly. Some interviewees prefer e-mail interviews, so that makes it even easier.

In the magazine I edit, I assign stories to our contributing writers by e-mail. I do the same to our contributing photographers, attaching pegs that would give them an idea of the kind of photos we want. Then the writers submit their articles by e-mail (using Word). Some photographers e-mail me their photos if it's just one to two photos I need. Others give me a photo CD.

After editing the articles and choosing the photos, I can e-mail everything to the art director, or send him/her the photo CD via courier. The art director then does the layouts and sends me the files by e-mail. I go over them, send him/her my corrections, and the final proofs are done. The files now go to production for color separation and printing.

Just the other day, one of my editors uploaded the videos of a mentoring session I have to write about. I downloaded the files yesterday at Mediafire, then downloaded a VLC media player so my PC can play the mp4 files. Today I will take notes as I watch the videos, write my story, then e-mail it to my editor. She will then edit it then have it published.

Technology has certainly made things easier for journalists. It is now possible to really work from home or the coffee shop as long as you have access to the Internet.

I'm still not as high tech as other journalists though. I still work on my desktop PC with DSL connection, have no digital camera, and still use a microcassette recorder. But that's already a good start, isn't it?

BOOK OF THE WEEK: Footprints of a Pilgrim features the poems of Ruth Bell Graham, wife of the evangelist Billy Graham. I was struck with how gentle and loving yet strong this woman was. Her poems are full of hope and faith. She was indeed a Proverbs 31 woman.

VERSE OF THE WEEK: The LORD will fulfill his purpose for me. Psalm 138: 8