The accidental journalist

Michaela Romulo
I couldn’t have picked a more opportune time to be a Rappler intern than during midterm elections

Michaela Romulo

I applied to the Rappler internship program on a whim.

I graduated from De La Salle University in late 2012 and, after 6 months of enjoying my new-found freedom, I decided it was time to start thinking about possible career opportunities.

With no formal training in the field of journalism and writing a mere hobby, I found myself suddenly thrust head first into the world of media. I quickly realized this was more than your average coffee-running, hunched-over-the-Xerox-machine type of internship.

Covering the elections

My crash course in journalism took me by surprise. Over the course of a month I was sent out to the field to cover events, write articles, and conduct interviews. I was thrown into the heart of the war room during election coverage. Although I had always enjoyed writing during my time as an undergrad, I quickly learned that writing for a media publication was a lot different from writing the research papers and essays I was accustomed to.

I had to write at lightning speed because many, if not most, of the articles that needed to be written were time sensitive. I had to learn how to adapt and adapt quickly. Perhaps that is the most important lesson that stands out, the ability to think on your feet and adapt to whatever situation you are thrown into. Nowhere did that become more evident than during the election coverage.

SCENES FROM THE WAR ROOM. Some members of the MovePH team during election coverage. Photo by Zak Yuson

I couldn’t have picked a more opportune time to be a Rappler intern than during midterm elections. Previously assigned to Life and Style, I was reassigned to work under Rappler’s citizen journalism arm, MovePH, over the course of election coverage.

Initially, my responsibilities included lining up the top of the hour report. Once I became comfortable with the job, I learned that I had no time to be complacent. Soon enough I was editing stories, interviewing contacts in the field, and writing my own articles.

Election fever

During those 5 days in the Rappler war room, I felt like I was living between a constant state of sleep deprivation and caffeine-induced alertness. My mind was abuzz with all things concerning elections and, although I would come home stressed out and exhausted from a 12-hour shift, I would wake up the next day excited to get back to the mix.

It wasn’t just the free food, unlimited supply of coffee, and unbelievably fast Internet connection that made the war room such an exciting place. It was the people. It was the energy. It was the feeling that you were a part of something bigger and that your contributions – no matter how menial you initially thought – actually mattered.

THE RAPPLER WAR ROOM. Our home during election coverage. Photo by Michaela Herlihy Romulo

From interns up to the big bosses there were no mere observers. Everyone was a functioning, essential cog that kept the mega machine of election coverage moving.

A new found family

Back in the Antel building where the hustle and bustle of the war room had been tempered to a slight murmur I realize that although we are no longer in the war room and election coverage is over, the feeling of belonging remains. There are more stories to tell, more voices to be heard, and more lessons to be learned. The machine continues moving forward.  

PHOTO OP. Rappler interns gather for a photo op with Sen. Bam Aquino during his visit to the Rappler office. Photo by Julianne Marie Leybag.

Although my introduction to the field of journalism happened largely by accident, this accidental journalist remains optimistic about the possibilities that lie ahead.

My great grandfather started his career as a journalist and, while I am still trying to forge my own path, I can’t help but think that just maybe I could follow in his footsteps. –

Michaela Romulo is a Rappler intern and a dancer. 

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