Newspaper Reporters' Job Ranked 16th From The Bottom Of 200 Jobs List

In this image released by the New York Times, ...
NYT reporter David Rhode, at work.Image by AFP/Getty Images via Daylife

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.

Here’s the full list.

5 thoughts on “Newspaper Reporters' Job Ranked 16th From The Bottom Of 200 Jobs List

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention Newspaper Reporters’ Job Ranked 16th From The Bottom Of 200 Jobs List - Caitlin Kelly - Broadside - True/Slant --

  2. Steve Weinberg

    The passion of journalists mentioned by Caitlin actually contains an additinal element. Most of the best journalists are reform-minded, harnessing their passion to make the world a better place. For example, I want to see the criminal justice system functioning more fairly so that wrongful convictions equal zero. That’s why I throw myself into research and writing about specific wrongful conviction cases, as well as systemic flaws.

    A few of the best journalists earn lots of money–six figures annually. In network television, the relatively few journalists who achieve excellence despite the limitations of the format occasionally seven figures.

    Most journalists, though, earn lots less than six figures and tend not to care all that much, as long as their basic needs are met. The most satisfying payment arrives when all the reporting and writing spawns change for the better.

  3. Caitlin Kelly

    Thanks, Steve. One of the issues that most troubles me — and many of us — is the race to the bottom that social media is driving. The more eyeballs, the better! And which attracts more….blablablaTigerWoodsLadyGagablablabla….or something serious and challenging.

    If/when newspapers drop this sort of work, and the reporters who value it and know how to do it, we’re all screwed.

    I agree about the money. I’d love to be rich but not if meant writing stupid shit I didn’t care about.

    1. Steve Weinberg

      Yes, Caitlin, we should all worry about the decline of in-depth investigative and explanatory reporting for the reasons you so wisely discern.

      But in-depth, high-quality journalism is far from dead. As evidence, I point you to the award entries every year in the competition sponsored by Investigative Reporters & Editors, the journalism organization I used to run day to day. The entries pour in every January–as they are this week–from newspapers, magazines, television newsrooms, radio newsrooms, Web-only outlets and book publishers.

  4. Caitlin Kelly

    This is good to know. Maybe you could do a post when the winners are announced — and point us to some less-familiar outlets worth reading/viewing/hearing?

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