What they don't tell you about the news

In a month, I am marking my 3-year anniversary with Rappler, and my 3rd year as a reporter.

What a ride it's been.

When I first decided to move back to the Philippines after finishing college, I was torn. I was in love with New York City. I adored the sights and sounds of Manhattan and what it stood for: success. At that time, I had been offered a high-paying job, double what I thought I would be earning in my first job out of college. One hitch: it was a role I was not necessarily excited about.

Just as I had made up my mind to stay though, I was offered – through an impromptu Skype call – a position with Rappler. I have always wanted to become a reporter since I was a little girl. Rappler CEO Maria Ressa invited me to come on board basing her decision only on my tweets. Rappler was just starting up then, and it offered me 1/16 of my salary offer in New York.

I packed my bags and after 5 years in the United States, flew home.

Rappler took a risk on me as much as I took a risk on it. I could have, after all, not been sensible beyond 140 characters. My mom called my decision to join Rappler insanity: coming home for pennies, for a company named after a made-up word, an organization that had a digital idea she just could not fathom.

I explained, to her non-comforted self – that I just had to follow my gut.

Three years in, and as Rappler continues to grow, I've learned countless things about this job, this industry.

I've seen for myself the changing face of news, which is moving online so quickly it's almost hard to keep up. I've learned that every day is unpredictable, that every interview has an agenda, that the best stories are the human stories, raw and relatable. 

But I've also learned things that no one told me before I started, which I will tell you now.

Biases, hangovers

I've learned that this quote from John Burns of the New York Times is a fact: “I have to be accurate, I don't have to be impartial.” I've learned that all journalists have biases, some just more subtle than others.

I've learned that breaking news creeps up on you when you least expect it – like alcohol, mercilessly and without warning. And then it knocks you out cold at the end of the day.

Speaking of alcohol, I've learned that whiskies on weekdays mean missing your deadlines because it's really, really hard to write a story or look at the camera with a hangover.

And speaking of not thinking straight, I've learned that lawmakers are capable of almost anything – such as showing a music video of themselves on the Senate floor.

I've learned that politics is a dirty, dirty world and that the world of news is just as murky. In the past 3 years, I have been bribed by a politician, been filed a libel suit, called names on Facebook much too vulgar to write here.

I've gotten threatening texts from elected officials, inappropriate invitations, and have been accused of sleeping with someone for a story. I've learned the value of courage, of developing a tough skin and how to firmly say no.

Oh and after being on the field chasing stories, I've also learned how to control my bladder.

Follow your gut

I've learned that a typo on your story can rouse you out of bed better than an alarm clock, that national holidays never apply to journalists. I've learned how to pack my bags in 10 minutes for disaster coverage, even if I had no idea how long I'd be gone for.

I've learned that money in journalism doesn't come on a silver platter as it does in Wall Street, but that it's there for the taking – served with a side of patience, a huge serving of hard work and a dash of grit. 

I've learned the highest high is from the adrenaline injected into my veins via breaking news and exclusive stories.

But above all, I've learned that on the field or off it, you have to follow your gut.

Even when your mother calls it insanity. - Rappler.com