If I were to list the worst jobs in this country, I would probably include soldier (What are those people in Washington doing to me?), ditch digger (Ow, my back!), lion tamer (Ow, my front!) and maid (I can’t pick up after myself and now I have to pick up after you?), but a Web site whose own task it is to make up such lists has other ideas.
You might have read that CareerCast.com released its 2013 Jobs Rated report, showing that of the 200 jobs it studied – based on salary, stress, work environment and hiring outlook – the worst to have is newspaper reporter.
Been there, done that, and I am here to tell you that of all the good jobs I’ve had, being a reporter was one of the best. What work could possibly top spending your day defending the First Amendment, seeking out the truth and keeping America free?
Well, being a lumberjack was No. 199 on the list, just above reporter. A notch better was being enlisted in the military, then actor and oil rig worker.
That’s ludicrous. Sure, lumberjacks get to cut down trees, but they have to wear plaid shirts in a time when grunge is dead.
I used to be an enlisted man in the military, and although I got to travel and meet new people, I also had a lot more bosses than I could keep up with.
Actor? Who wants to lie for a living?
And how could living on an oil rig and requiring industrial-strength shampoo be anybody’s idea of fun?
I came along just after Watergate, when reporters were seen as the first line of defense against totalitarianism. Woodward and Bernstein raised the profile of a profession that was already pretty well-thought of (in films, valiant reporters not only covered the crime but also caught the killer).
I learned early that reporters help make newspapers the messenger between the events and the reader. It is a serious job, requiring hard work, long hours, fairness, tact, dedication – all needing a writing style that made the reader care.
As to the negatives listed by the jobs Web site, I see only the flip side of the coin:
Salary? People don’t go into journalism to get rich, but to render a service. The paycheck is a lagniappe at the end of the week.
Stress? Well, of course! When you’re facing a daily deadline, competition from other reporters in town and evasive officials, reporting is a stressful job. That’s what makes it fun.
Work environment? They must be kidding! What other profession lets you rub elbows with presidents, politicians, criminals, athletes, educators, celebrities and everyday working folks who have a story to tell? It’s the people you meet who make reporting so rewarding.
Hiring outlook? Even though changing times have taken their toll, that usually takes care of itself when you’re doing a good job.
If CareerCast saw reporter as the worst job, what was the best? Actuary.
I rest my case.