— Barbara Bush
Former first lady of U.S.
(b. June 8, 1925)
A recent survey identifying what its creators called “The 10 Worst Jobs of 2012” likely raised a few brows when it posted newspaper reporters in the No. 5 slot.
According to the CareerCast.com brain trust responsible for the annual questionnaire, this was the first time for the position to be included in the top tier. Another media career taking it on the chin was radio broadcaster which likewise made its debut in the Top 10.
Based on my own shallow research, which merely consisted of reviewing two websites and scanning over a neighboring newspaper’s coverage, some of the factors weighing the rankings included work environment, stress, physical demands, hiring outlook ... and of course, everyone’s personal favorite — income.
Much can be said of the survey’s findings. Interpretations are probably as diverse as the people making them. While I have no argument against some of the criteria used — stress and time demands being two of the most relevant — I do sometimes wonder if people understand the sacrifices made by the average newspaperman or woman.
Sure, in some markets — mostly depending on size and city — newspaper folks aren’t going to live in palaces, drive the latest and greatest luxury automobiles nor enjoy the prestige and image of the rich and famous lifestyle. But that’s OK. Most don’t seek it.
The majority just want to do their jobs and do them right while safeguarding a few basic American principles along the way — freedom of speech, expression, press and anything else that grants an accurate, and accountable, voice to the average citizen. In today’s day and age it sounds a little cheesy, especially to a younger generation that oldtimers believe is distancing itself more and more from anything pertaining to news. But this nation still has a few diehards who believe in what they’re doing and why they’re doing it. And they love the work in spite of its demands.
Mine is not a personal tirade against such surveys and those who participate in them. Nor is it a trashing of our ever-evolving capitalist society whose middle class appears to be fading into the fiscal sunset; at least, if you believe what some economists are trumpeting.
All I’m saying is this. Some people still love their work regardless of some of the shortcomings. This includes a lot of newspaper reporters and radio broadcasters. I’ve never been a radio DJ so I can’t speak on their behalf. But I have been in and out of newspaper work, directly and indirectly, for 35 years.
This I know.
You’re not in it to get wealthy; most just want to pay their bills, have a little left over to get the kids through school and maybe take an occasional vacation.
You’re not in it for relaxation; newspaper reporting is not a cushy job and its hours can get pretty exhausting.
You’re not in it for holidays and long weekends; most newspaper folks work them all unless prior arrangements have been made.
You’re not in it for your health; the stress is undeniable, the deadlines are daily and the pressure can be intense.
You’re not in it for the glory; truth is, newspaper reporting is often a thankless job. You mostly hear the complaints and rarely the compliments. But for the record, most reporters would agree one genuine “thank you” will erase the pain of 10 criticisms.
This line of work attracts some good and deserving people. That’s why last week’s announcement that Cleveland’s community newspaper had received nine 2012 Tennessee Press Association awards was a heart warmer. Four were first-place honors, one was second, one was third, one was fourth and two were fifth. People, their talents and their dedication to task made it happen.
Congrats to associate editor Gwen Swiger and the entire news team that earned first for Special Edition or Issue thanks to the “Road to Recovery: The First 30 Days” supplement. Kudos as well to associate editor Lucie Willsie and staff writer Joyanna Weber whose combined creativity earned first place for Local Features. And the deepest of accolades to Joe “Clickman” Cannon who stunned the state’s photography industry with that “Where’d He Go?” shot that earned first place in Sports Photography from last year’s gridiron tango between the Bears and Blue Raiders.
The same newsroom crew brought home second place in the Public Service category in recognition of several months of coverage in the aftermath of those tornadoes of April 27, 2011. Lifestyles, sports writing and education reporting also earned varying levels of distinction.
Their efforts are appreciated by this newspaper and I’m sure the Cleveland and Bradley County community.
People who enjoy their jobs more times than not deliver a quality product. Sometimes we newspaper folks fall short of expectations including our own, but that just shows we’re human.
To a group of blue collars who don’t always get the credit, nice job guys and dolls! To quote a past English professor, “You done good!” Oh, and my apologies for the politically incorrect use of “dolls.” I am an imperfect creature.
For the record, CareerCast says the four worst jobs above newspaper reporters are (Nos. 1 to 4) lumberjacks, dairy farmers, enlisted military soldiers and oil rig workers.
I don’t relish shimmying up tall trees, milking cranky cows, dodging unforgiving bullets nor savoring the smell of fresh petroleum. So I guess I’ll stick to newspapering ... in spite of the surveys.