It's all Lois Lane’s fault.
I was eleven years old when Superman Returns was released. It was, I think, the first Superman movie I watched and I was quite charmed with Lois Lane. She was, for eleven-year-old me, the epitome of cool. She was fearless, she seemed free to flounce around the city as needed, she was financially stable, and she had a job she was brilliant at. And more importantly, that job appeared incredible – it had a good combination of legwork and desk-based introspection, a need for assertion and bravery, and the ability to bring people to places.
It was Lois Lane who introduced me to journalism and it has been a wild ride that I believe saw its most exciting, fulfilling days in my internship with Rappler.
Leaving Lois Lane
I have had quite a bit of exposure to journalism before I considered applying for a Rappler internship. In the years after Superman Returns, journalism became my primary extra-curricular activity in school. I was in my elementary and high school’s campus paper. I eventually headed it, joined and won a few competitions here and there, met a few brilliant “real” journalists, attended countless talks, even visited a number of press-oriented establishments like a broadsheet’s printing press and large media offices.
At some point, it became my pipe dream to be Lois Lane, to chase stories and talk to people and dig out truths for a living. It was not an uncommon dream, certainly not, but I felt a bit daring for having a dangerous job for an aspiration.
As many childhood dreams do, it faded bit by bit. I never faltered in seeing the nobility in it and sometimes, I would still see myself running after stories down the streets of Manhattan. But with the practicality borne out of seeing and living a bit more, I left it as purely a pipe dream and nothing more. Maybe it was learning about the inevitable hardships that came with the job. Maybe it was hearing about journalists whose lives were snuffed out. Maybe it was hearing about how the industry had its own fair share of skeletons in many closets, of people who have gone rogue and chose money over truth, power over integrity.
Lois Lane, after all, was a fictional character in a fictional world that had flying men in spandex.
Looking for Lois
I did not apply for Rappler because of my journalism dreams. I applied because I had a four-month-long summer and Rappler seemed like a good place to spend some of it, a good place to learn maybe a bit more about the “adult” life I was, in equal parts, terrified and excited to witness. I thought that with the background I had in the press life in both high school and college, getting into a press-related internship would not be that much of a stretch and that for once, I would finally get an up-close and firsthand look into journalism in the Philippines.
As it turned out, much of the experience was comprised of the unexpected.
Growing up quite sheltered and well secured in schools that were organized to a fault, life as an intern felt like chaos in the first few weeks. There were no strictly designated tasks, no formal training, no clocked-in hours, no hierarchies. I spent the first few weeks a bit lost, a bit doubtful, and maybe a bit lost in the madness.
But as the saying goes, there is a method to that madness. Once I realized that being remotely inside the press world meant staving off all prejudices and closely held ideas of hierarchies and systems and venturing into the unknown, it became a tad bit easier. Much of being an intern for a social news network, as it turns out, necessitated stepping – no, leaping – out of the comfort zone.
My beloved, fiercely protected Twitter account with its twenty thousand tweets of inane sentiments went public. I learned to churn out stories as quickly as I could. I learned how to get over my fear of being wrong and being judged and simply go up to people and ask questions (as it turns out, I am definitely, definitely an introvert). I learned how to accept criticism more gracefully and gratefully. I learned how to do more than what I was told and find my own stories.
It was not a perfect upward trajectory of a performance. I was definitely no Lois Lane. Yet, I know I learned immeasurably, regardless. I learned more about the realities of the world, the potential of social media, and the ever-constant need to adapt and engage. I learned about the value of crowdsourcing and of simplifying systems.
LEARNING BY DOING. The author interviewing Pasig City Disaster Manager Ritchie Van Angeles during the Pasig City Night Earthquake Drill. Photo by Zak Yuson/Rappler
Rappler is a millennial’s paradise. It lives on social media and it thrives on the individualism people say millennials have. It not only reports on events and issues that impact the world, but it also tries to make its own impact, to go beyond traditional journalism and reportage – in other words, it caters as well to the millennial’s ambition of “changing the world” and “going beyond.”
It is an entirely different world from the one Lois Lane thrived in.
I wondered if I would find my inner Lois Lane or if I would even find other Lois Lanes in my internship I tried to be a bit of her as I overcame hesitations and went out to look for stories and do my tasks.
But it turned out to be entirely different.
The job is no less cool, no doubt. There is still that sense of assertion and bravery and adventure. There is still the overwhelming need to be smart, be clever. But ultimately, there is more to it, especially in this ever-shifting world that will one day be ruled by the people who spent their formative years with a gadget on one hand. Journalism, as it turns out, is more than being brilliant or charming or fearless. It is also about breaking boundaries, crossing limits, and a whole lot of adapting to realities.
For all its worth and despite how her world was so, so different, I think the lessons I learned and how I learned them would have made Lois Lane proud. - Rappler.com
Frances Sayson is a Rappler intern and a student at the Ateneo de Manila University.
Want to be a Rappler intern? Visit this page to learn how.
Photo by Jose Mari Deluria taken from the author's Facebook page.