Something called CareerCast puts out an annual ranking of 200 common jobs. This year, “newspaper reporter” finished 200 out of 200. So, last.
Here’s the CareerCast explanation: “Readership has steadily moved from print publications, whether they be newspapers or magazines, in favor of online outlets. The resulting decline in advertising revenue has left newspapers — and thus, newspaper reporters — feeling the pinch.”
And, just in case you are saying “well, sure, ‘print reporter’ might be a bad job but almost no one does just that anymore”, which is what I did, then here are a few other rankings to humble you: Photojournalist (195), Publication Editor (137) and Social Media Manager (101.) (Hat tip to the indispensable Romensko for flagging the rankings.)
Here’s the “good” news from CareerCast: “However, those with good writing skills often can find new employment in public relations, marketing, advertising and social media, where the outlook may be brighter.”
While the full methodology of how CareerCast arrives at its rankings is pretty complicated (you can read it here), it essentially comes down to how much money you make, how much stress you have and what your work environment like. So, the next two worst jobs behind “newspaper reporter” according to CareerCast are “lumberjack” and “enlisted military personnel” — both of which carry very high risk of danger or even death. (Corrections officer is the 6th worst job.)
Look, I get it. Journalism, broadly, is not terribly high-paying and there does tend to be a fair amount of stress tied to it. And, yes, for some reporters far braver than I, there is also the risk of death when they put themselves in dangerous places in the world to report. (Sixty one journalists were killed in 2014, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists.) Add all of that to the fact that journalism is in the midst of a massive change in the way in which news is delivered (and constructed) and you get the worst job in the country.
Let me mount a defense of this profession that I have worked in my entire post-college life.
I will avoid the “it’s a noble calling” or “it’s not a job, it’s a passion” cliches — though I do think for many people in the field, they hold true. To me, journalism isn’t the worst profession for a simple reason: I like learning.
If you boil down journalism to its essence, it’s really just about finding things out and then telling people what you’ve found out. That’s the mission we are all on — trying to understand and synthesize the world around us. Where can’t you fly a gyrocopter in Washington? Why is brunch so divisive? How are our veterans being treated (or mistreated)?
I love spending every day trying to figure things out in the political world. I love talking to people — sources and other journalists — who make me see something in a story or a politician that I couldn’t see on my own. I love the process of looking through some huge poll with tons of numbers in it and finding the one thing that I think is worth sharing with folks. I love seeing people who work with me on The Fix — and in journalism more generally — producing the charts, GIFs and pictures that allow us to explain things in the best possible way to the online reader.
The honest truth is that journalism is really damn fun most of the time. That doesn’t mean — this is for you, haters — that we don’t take what we do seriously. We do. But, a profession where you get to not only engage in the daily conversation around politics, pop culture (or whatever) but also write about it for some broader group of people is pretty hard to beat.
I am not saying journalism is for everyone or that it is as awesome as being an actuary — the best job, according to CareerCast. But as someone who has devoted my life to the field, I can tell you I am having more fun now than ever before. How many people can say the same?