What is a Journalist ?

by Jamal Ashley Abbas


I am reading “Crime & Punishment: Killing of Filipino Journalists” by the Asian Institute of Journalism & Communication. Accdg to Dr. Florangel Rosario-Braid: “In today’s mediated (and multi-channel) world, it may no longer suffice to define who the journalist is but WHAT he or she does. A journalist is one committed to the standards of the journalism profession including a code of ethics. The work ethic includes multi-sourcing, confirmation and verification of facts and fair, balanced and objective reporting. The journalist’s primary responsibility is to serve the public and help build or strengthen the democratic architecture of society.”

When the killing of journalists with impunity in the Philippines came into the limelight, a lot of so-called experts said stop-killing-journalsitsthat most of those killed were actually not journalists. While they were broadcasters, they were not journalists in the sense of reporting or analyzing news. They were hired by politicians or businessmen who bought airtime to promote their interests or attack their enemies. Others said that most of these so-called broadcast journalists could not be called journalists because they were not hired by radio and TV stations or networks but by block time producers.

For me, whether journalists or not, they did not deserve to be killed with impunity. If they slandered or libeled anyone, then the aggrieved party or parties can have recourse to the Courts.

But I totally agree with Dr. Rosario-Braid’s definition. It is high time to restrict the term journalist to those who deserve to be called such.

Unfortunately, with this definition, very, very few can be called journalists – be they beat reporters, columnists, editors, broadcasters, etc.


Some years ago, I submitted a news article on a bombing in Mindanao. I was surprised when the editor turned it down saying it was already written by a mainstream online publication. To my shock, my report and the other online article had almost identical titles! (What are the odds in that happening?) But after reading their news report, I told my editor that our reports were totally different .

The other article had one source – the military – and a quote from Malacanang praising the military for a job well done. It contained factual errors. As a result, it was not balanced and not fair.

My report had several sources – the military, the police, the mother and relatives of the suspects, witnesses, and the regional Commission on Human Rights (CHR)representative. My facts were correct as verified by all the sources. Thus, it was more balanced and fair than the other report. The other report showed an open and shut case — there was a bombing, suspects were arrested and would be charged in court. Govt officials praised the military for a job well done. Period. My report showed that the case was  wide open. There was a bombing. The military rounded up people with no warrants. The suspects had alibis that were easily corroborated. The suspects were held incommunicado — no visitors or lawyers for them. And the suspects’ relatives went to the CHR to file file charges against the military.

My editor relented and agreed to print it the following day.

I can’t forget this news article because of the weird coincidence of our titles being almost identical. And it was the one and only piece that I wrote that almost did not get published. It was a good thing that I followed a high standard of journalism while the other writer did not. Even freelance writers can be journalists.

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How much should I charge for writing this?

by Ime Morales


Ever since FWGP was established in 2011/2012, this has been the single most common question writers ask me. Even writers who have been writing professionally for many years would send a note and ask, “How much should I charge for writing website copy?” Or text for a newsletter, a brochure, a press release, and so on. There is nothing wrong with asking—I understand that. But what gets my goat every time is when someone gives incomplete details and expects me to give a good answer.

It shows a lack of understanding about an important aspect of your work

Freelance writers worth their salt should know that before one can come up with proper costing, there are several factors to be considered:

  1. Who is the client? (You can give discounts to NGOs, family or friends, small firms, etc.)
  2. How long will it take you to finish the work? (How fast do you work?)
  3. What is your hourly rate as a professional? (How good are you?)
  4. Does it involve research (what kind of research?), interviews, meetings with clients, etc? (Include your fee for time spent on these, plus allowances for transportation/food.)
  5. How long will it take before you get full payment? (A client who can pay in 2 weeks should not be charged the same amount as someone who will take six months to pay.)

These are just the basic stuff. I would also consider my professional relationship with a client. If he or she is easy to work with, doesn’t give me the run-around when it’s payment time, is nice and polite to me, et cetera, then I definitely give discounts.

So you see, whenever you need to come up with a price for a newsletter, for instance, don’t think that there is a standard cost for all newsletter projects. That doesn’t exist. Each project needs to be treated (and priced) differently, depending on unique factors.

A quick formula

All things being equal, however, a general formula would go something like this:

Number of hours spent working x Writer’s hourly rate = Net costhourlyrate-thumb

The hourly rate is different for every writer, depending on skill, seniority, genre, etc. Offhand, I’d say freelance writers shouldn’t accept an hourly rate of less than Php 63. This can climb up to Php 5,000 per hour for veteran freelancers.

What It Means To Be A Freelance Writer For A Living

by Anna Agoncillo


As soon as the clock strikes 7 AM, I will immediately get up from my bed and dash to my Acer laptop. I answer several emails and research about the topics that I am going to write on that day. I consider myself blessed to be able to wake up every day and do something I deem as fulfilling and meaningful. That fulfilling and meaningful job is none other than Writing. I am a freelance writer who works from home, much like most of you.

I was not always a freelance writer. I worked a full-time job at the office and quit in the pursuit of other endeavors. Yes! It was scary to swim into the bowels of the unknown but, I used my sufficient knowledge and available resources to continue on. I started writing “psychological” posts on my personal blog – Miss Psychobabble. Eventually, I moved on to writing for a local wedding magazine and international websites. Time and effort had given me the opportunity to pursue my childhood dream of becoming an author.

Last 2014, I released an e-book entitled “Psychology of Love, Money, & Life”. Paved by the modern technology, my book is available at Amazon Kindle, Google Play Books, Kobo, Apple IBooks, and M1 Learning Centre. It feels good to accomplish something that you worked hard for. I dedicated my book to the people that matter most to me.

Writing changed my life in ways I could never have imagined! It allowed me to inspire others and to pursue international opportunities. That said, here are my take on what it means to become a freelance writer:


Being able to have a flexible timetable gives you the opportunity to spend more time for the people and the activities you love. Setting your own working hours helps you go out for private errands during lunch, go to your family’s school presentations, and go to fun reunions. However, you must set an expected number of hours of work to ensure that time is managed and work is done even if there is no fix structure.


Storytelling has many benefits, including putting events in a cohesive framework,  associating emotions with the events, remembering the events better, focusing on the vital details, and improving your memory in general. Discover what makes life worth living and inspire others through your unique thoughts.


It is a sad truth that many people drag themselves to work every single day to do something they are not fond of just to get enough money to survive. As a writer, I am able to do something that I am extremely passionate about and get paid for it.

Writing gave me a will, a purpose, and a voice. What more can I ask for?

© Anna Agoncillo (text only)


FWGP 2016



fwgp commitment

FWGP members raising their hands to affirm their commitment to give part of their time to the group

The Freelance Writers’ Guild of the Philippines’ (FWGP’s) general assembly this year called for a revitalization of the writers’ group and asked for a stronger commitment from the members. The assembly was held at Xanland Place, Katipunan Avenue in Quezon City on Jan. 17, 2016.

fwgp ga Ime

Founder and President Imelda “Ime” Morales opened the meeting with a summary of the operations of the group since its creation in 2011. FWGP EXECOM Officer Beverly Wico Sy gave a rundown of the various issues currently facing FWGP and freelance writers, in general.

SEO and Outsourcing consultant Bingo Ventura invited the group to consider doing writing ventures with his consulting firm.

Ms. Beverly Wico Sy

Ms. Beverly Wico Siy

The members divided themselves into various committees and discussed the agenda for the coming year.