So far in my professional career, being a newspaper reporter has been my favorite job. Which is why I was surprised early this morning to wake up to more than a few posts on Facebook about a new CareerCast.com survey out today that lists newspaper reporter as the worst job of 2013.
The worst job of 2013? The worst? Who devised the list? I’m guessing the poor chump forced to cover Lindsey Lohan?
The survey ranked 200 jobs from best to worst using governmental information. It considered such criteria as physical demands, work environment, income, stress and hiring outlook.
I will be the first to admit, the hours for a newspaper reporter are long, the pay sucks, deadlines can cause premature graying and editors are typically short-winded, short-suffering and long with the red-penned critique. Sure, when breaking news hits it matters not if you’re giving birth to triplets or just sat down on a seat of a plane destined for Maui, your first real vaca in three years — a newspaper reporter must go! And yes, someone’s working on a song called “Bloggers Killed the Newspaper Star,” but since it hasn’t yet hit Spotify, it doesn’t count. There are definitely down sides today to being a newspaper reporter. But the worst job of 2013? Worst than a paralegal assistant? A loan officer? A garbage collector???
No! I categorically reject this report.
I’ve worked for two major US newspapers in my career—the Austin American-Statesman and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. During those stints I got the chance to do somersaults and hammerheads in a spectacular cherry-red Pitts S-2B acrobatic plane. I felt the sick thrill of being in the passenger seat of a souped-up Honda driven by an avid Fast and Furious-type drag racer going 120 down MoPac. I took my first trip to New York City as a news reporter after winning an award from Columbia University for an exposé I did on the lack of make-up for black women in bourgeois salons. Make-up, I tell you! Other perks of being a newspaper reporter: I got to meet and interview Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York, who asked me five times, Dahling, dahling, don’t you just luhv, luhv, luhv my belt buckle? (It was the British flag all rhinestoned out. And it was hideous. But she was as fiery and fierce as her mane of hair would suggest. And I luhved every minute of our conversation.) I was welcomed into the home of former president Jimmy Carter where I sat and had tea with his wife, Rosalynn Carter, who fawned ever so demurely over her famed peanut farm. When the planes hit the World Trade Center, I was forever changed by the stories I was assigned here at home, effectively feeling 9/11’s impact nearly 2,000 miles away. As a newspaper reporter, I learned things I would never have learned as an actuary (the Number 1 job) or an industrial machine repairer (Number 44.) I was able to experience the healing virtues of an alternative form of therapy called The Feldenkrais Method. I got to slumber party with a gaggle of teen girl geeks who schooled me righteously on all the many ways this thing called The Internet could rock my world if I, like, let it. And, working on a piece about high-tech penitentiary gadgets, I met some really affable, if a tad bit aloof, male prisoners inside a maximum security unit in Huntsville.
I’ll always remember my time as a newspaper reporter being one thrill of a ride. In fact, I miss it. Do I wish the pay had been better? Holidays worked a little fewer? Deadlines a little further off? Of course. But being a newspaper reporter is not the worst job of the year. I mean, somebody’s going to have to wipe down the table after Kim Kardashian’s post-delivery plastic surgery.