When I was a TV reporter in the Philippines, I enjoyed all the comforts any journalist could ask for – a cameraman who always took beautiful videos, desk researchers who often helped me verify information and schedule interviews, and segment producers and video editors who made sure I came up with fine pieces of journalism.
My first term of studying journalism in London changed all that. The comforts disappeared. Despite having more than 5 years of reporting experience, I felt I was starting from scratch.
I spent most of the first few months of my MA International Journalism course at City University scouring the streets of London for stories. Unlike in the Philippines, I was a one-man team here – gathering stories on my own, going at it alone.
One of the first stories I did was about the need for more social housing in London amid soaring house prices. One night, I went out carrying the camera and equipment I borrowed from the university to look for case studies: Londoners who ended up sleeping on the streets because they were unable to pay their rent.
Doing it alone
It was my first time to be both the reporter and cameraman. I was in charge of setting up the equipment, framing the shots well, holding the microphone, and of course, asking the questions.
When I got home I had to edit my piece. I spent an entire night struggling with the editing software, looking for quick tutorials on the web, and remembering the researchers, segment producers, and video editors I used to turn to for help.
I embraced being a one-man team as I produced more stories, and became more confident along the way. I felt proud to have acquired new technical skills, which I can definitely use in a new media environment that requires more from reporters than just being able to report.
Home to many of the world’s largest news organisations and a robust press, the United Kingdom is definitely the best place to hone one’s skills in journalism. This is a country where I get to reaffirm my belief in a free press – something we hold dear in the Philippines – and learn from its ups and downs. It’s a country that never runs out of stories for those who seek them.
A learning journey
Despite the difficulties, I know I am fortunate to have been given the chance to practice journalism here, and be critiqued by some of the best in the industry – with a fully-funded scholarship under the UK government’s Chevening program at that. My tutors are practicing journalists and academics recognised in their fields.
I also had the chance to listen and ask questions to class speakers who work for prestigious news organisations like the BBC, AP, Reuters, and The Economist, and foreign correspondents whose passion for journalism continues to burn despite the dangers they had faced.
Without a doubt, I can say I have become a better skilled journalist after my first 3 months here in London. This is just the beginning. I am looking forward to how the rest of my time here will make me even better. – Rappler.com
Ryan Edward Chua is currently studying Masters in International Journalism at City University London under the British Chevening Scholarships. Straight out of college, Ryan worked as a writer and production assistant for the ABS-CBN News Channel. He became a field reporter after a few months, covering crime and disasters before being assigned to the Philippine Senate. Aside from politics, Ryan is interested in global affairs.