I have been in the writing or journalism business for nine years.
In 2001, I was hired as a proofreader for a Filipino newsweekly. I struggled to go up: I’ve been admitted to become their correspondent. My first paycheck’s worth Php.500 (US$11.54 in the current FOREX, but it’s lower, I think that time). I was happy not only to see my byline but being paid to write a story.
Years have passed, I’ve been promoted to junior reporter, to senior reporter, then to section editor, until the print version of that newsweekly folds up in 2008. I did a short-time PR stint with a federation of government workers’ union, while continuously doing freelance writing with an international newsweekly, PINAS; the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines Media Office; and Bulatlat.com.
As I have said before, my dear readers (naks!), I get used to stiff writing. Journalism requires serious tone; the more serious the tone is, the more authoritative the article is. Until I came to realize that in the information marketing business, stiff writing is a big NO, NO.
Since you’re selling something to people, you need to be “friendlier” to them. You need to interact with them, engage them into a dialogue, and convince them to buy your product. In the news, you can’t do that. You need to be “impersonal,” meaning you need to detach yourself in the subject that you are writing. You can serve as the storyteller, but never a part of the story.
But in information marketing, it is otherwise. You need to get involved with your readers and build a rapport. In order to that, you need to learn how to converse through writing.
I’ve asked my wife about my writing. And she casually said, “Masyado kasing formal. Masyadong seryoso.” And it’s true! Even my short stories, my essays, even my poems have this kind of tone. Maybe it’s my personality. Or am I just afraid of letting go my more “humane” side?
Yeah, I have to admit that going from serious to a complete joker gives me goosebumps. It brings me this kind of fear, that fear of losing the respect of my colleagues, my friends. However, change is inevitable. Even in the journalism world, the face of reportage is changing. They are more into this literary journalism—writing news in a way that is far different from the old ways.
Gee! I need to change or die. I need to cope, in order to survive. Charles Darwin, I am now listening! I need to be tough against my tough writing and to change it, relax it a little bit, in order to survive. Thank you so much about that…
N. S. B.
P. S. Thanks to Catherine, my very, very good friend for a nice chat today, in between breaks. I love you so much, Cathe! By the way, Happy International Women’s Day to you and the rest of the women who work to make this society better. 🙂