Woodward and Bernstein — no, that’s not a law firm — were nuts!
According to a new list ranking 200 careers, being a newspaper reporter is almost the worst choice you can make, according to their judgment, which looked at the physical and emotional environment, income, physical demands, outlook, and stress of 200 jobs.
Economists (26), parole officers (29) dental hygienists (10) and bank tellers (68) easily beat out pounding the pavement with a notebook. Even nuclear plant decontamination technicians (165) have it better.
Fascinating to see that jobs like choreographer (hello, Twyla) and police officer were ranked almost as poorly. Ask 90 percent of cops and choreographers — and newspaper reporters — and passion informs a huge part, if not all, of their vocational decision. I’ve yet to meet a reporter who values a pretty office and cuddly co-workers and a calm, mellow environment. It sure ain’t for the job security. A very fortunate few will, and do, surpass this list’s top salary ranking of $77,000; The New York Times union-set minimum is higher than that.
Newspaper reporters — I’ve worked for three major dailies — groove on stress. I think it’s actually a form of fuel. They send us out in freezing cold, pouring rain, 100 degree heat, into wars and refugee camps, and we love it. When they asked us for volunteers, post-Katrina, at the Daily News, a number of hands went up. Every ambitious reporter knows the more unpleasant the environment, physical demands and stress the greater the chances it’s a fantastic story.
Emotional environment? Hah. Editors, some of them, are so insane they need to be medicated, (one of mine proudly displayed his on his desk), and most wouldn’t last 20 minutes in a tidy, polite, corporate environment. Neither would we.
After one guy shouted at me in front of the entire newsroom and I went to my boss, he calmly replied, “He threw a radio at me once.”
The “outlook” piece of the ranking — i.e. will those of us now wandering the world newsroom-less ever find another place another newspaper — is the killer, with 24,000 print writers canned last year. That part, without argument, is sadly true.