The pathways to a journalism career are diverse. Not all journalists have a degree in journalism or related fields. Some journalists have a degree in the liberal arts, political science, and even in the hard sciences. Many practice journalism as a passion, but not all of these practitioners have adequate training. Unfortunately, although the number of journalists in the Philippines is pegged to be somewhere around 3,500 (Arao, 2018), there is no recent data on the general profile of the Filipino journalist in terms of age, gender, and educational attainment.
Internship or on-the-job training appears to be highly valued among employers, so much so that for many graduates, the internship is their point of entry into a news organisation. News outlets also provide scholarships and trainings to a targeted institution or group. The scholars of these news firms are bound by a contract to work for at least a year under their sponsors.
The idea of ‘professionalism’ or professional development in the Philippine setting cannot be divorced from the political economy of the media. Tandoc (2016), in his survey with 349 Filipino journalists, found that younger journalists with lower wages tend to identify ‘low wages’ as a problem more than others, while those with higher salaries tend to identify lagging professionalism as the ‘most important problem’. In other words, wages and job security are also predictors of appreciation for journalistic competence in the country.
Journalistic professionalism in the Philippines is largely defined by the norms and standards of the industry, and so future newsmakers are only socialized into existing roles and later reproduce these current orientations and standards. It is not surprising that practitioners and even many journalism educators see nothing wrong with the idea, but for some scholars like Hirst (2010) and Mensing (2010), such a notion of professionalism can be hostile to innovation and creative disruptions, which characterize the global field of journalism today.