It might be old moldy news, but being a newspaper reporter is the next-to-worst of 200 jobs in America, according to distinguished organizations which employ people who don't do much work and get paid handsomely for spin-doctoring public relations semantic weaponry disguised as "news".
According to Poynter.org: Newspaper reporters can add CareerCast.com to the list of sources telling them to flee journalism, according to writer Cailin Johnston in an article published on Poynter's online offering on April 23, 2013. The group took 200 jobs and ranked them in order from most to least desirable, based on factors such as environment, income, outcome and stress. Add all that together and newspaper reporter rings in at a dismal 200 out of 200 - the worst job on CareerCast's list, below lumberjack, janitor, garbage collector and bus driver. (See: http://www.poynter.org/latest-news/mediawire/211353/newspaper-reporter-is-worst-job-in-2013-study-says/)
"We look at a wide range of criteria, as analytical as we can be," said Tony Lee, CareerCast's publisher. "There are some subjective pieces but, frankly, it's really driven by the data." (See: http://www.poynter.org/latest-news/mediawire/211353/newspaper-reporter-is-worst-job-in-2013-study-says/)
Poynter continues: The data come from sources such as the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Occupational Safety & Health Administration and trade associations. 2013 marks the 25th anniversary of the list. And while "newspaper reporter" has dropped down the ranks through the years, Lee said it's been in the bottom half since the list's inception. There are reasons why newspaper reporter is at the bottom," Lee said. "Some of them are reasons that really haven't changed in 25 years and some of them are new phenomena. (See ibid: http://www.poynter.org/latest-news/mediawire/211353/newspaper-reporter-is-worst-job-in-2013-study-says/
But this year, being a newspaperman or newspaperwoman got a big rise. It went from being the 200th worst job in America to the 199th worst job. The (2014 CareerCast) study ranked the top 200 best and worst jobs in the U.S. -- looking at working environment, income, future outlook and stress -- and found that lumberjack is now the worst. Then came newspaper reporter, enlisted military personnel, taxi driver and broadcaster. (See the April 15, 2014 posted and updated offering of HuffPost Media at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/04/15/worst-job-2014-newspaper-reporter_n_5153922.html)
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, newspaper reporters earn a median salary of $37,090 -- higher than the median pay of lumberjacks, enlisted military members and taxi drivers. But "dwindling hiring prospects" are a major reason the occupation ranks so low, CareerCast reports. Pew Research Center similarly found that the number of working journalists in the U.S. has dropped dramatically in the last six years-- from 55,000 in 2006 to just 38,000 in 2012., says The Huffington Post online article. (See ibid: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/04/15/worst-job-2014-newspaper-reporter_n_5153922.html)
The under-30 Allyson Bird, author of a blog entry posted about a year ago that went viral, writes: I had survived the staff reductions at The Palm Beach Post and then more of the same at The Post and Courier, followed by furloughs. Lower pay and no raises will kill morale, sure, but I think some of that can be overcome with a sense of community. I remember that the managing editor at The Palm Beach Post, Bill Rose, used to read over my shoulder and check out my lede whenever I had a 1A story on deadline. I'd hold my breath every time. Moments like that are worth more than an extra 2 percent pay every year. (See: http://www.poynter.org/latest-news/mediawire/207936/allyson-bird-explains-further-why-i-left-the-news/)
Well, so much for sad soliloquies and enough of the serious-as-a-heart-attack reports - which were all actually taken from reputable sources and not funny-fied or spoofed-up at all. Although some of the facts, figures and circumstances listed above, I must admit, are grimly humorous, if one likes dark humor or sick comedy. I know I certainly do.
Not only did this writer work for more than 20 years in "the worst job in America," he also has had the dubious honor of working - 17 or 18 years ago - for what Mondo Times online has ranked as one of the absolute worst newspapers in America, The Times West Virginian. Yes, the Mondo Times online offering ranks The Times West Virginian as the No. 14 "Worst American News Media," the No. 3 "Worst American Newspaper," and the No. 22 "Most Conservative USA News Media". (See: http://www.mondotimes.com/rating/contentusa.html)
Yes, for about two years, this now well-over-30 writer was the business editor of The Times West Virginian, which this hokey- fanoky "expert" website on journalism, this Mondo Times thingamajig, dubs as one of the worst newspapers in America. So not only was I working in the absolute most atrocious of all industries in the USA, but also at one of the country's worst newspapers. Suffice it to say that I enjoyed an occasional afternoon off, wade fishing in northern West Virginia's creeks and rivers with a bunch of good ole boys I befriended, holding a spin-casting rod and reel with each hand and having the time of my life.
My friends looked and acted, way back when, much like the cast of trappers and hunters on Destination America's Mountain Monsters. But they were well-educated men and we spent many an afternoon discussing poems by Keats, Donne, Houseman, Dickenson, Abercrombie, Silverstein, Frost, and every once in a while, an old, yellowing column written by humorist newspaperlady Erma Bombeck.
Oh, those were the days! How I miss those fellas and all those stinky smallmouth bass, catfish, and carp we caught!
Why the Mondo Times ranks this paper, my beloved TTWV, or any other news organization or newspaper in any of its absolute worst categories is an enigma, however. No rationale, statistics, data, or reasoning of any sort is given for these rankings. Even comments and opinions are not tacked on to the listings; but people who become members of Mondo Times get to vote on ranking newspapers and news organizations throughout the country. And Mondo Times doesn't recruit journalists, journalism professors, or people who are working, or have worked, in any capacity as reporters and/or editors. You can be a lumberjack, garbage collector, janitor, rickshaw puller, racehorse jockey, or a shade-tree reader of dime-store romances and hold a membership to Mondo Times, from all indications given by this website. Anyone can join Mondo Times, and if people pay sweet cash with their memberships, they become a really super-duper customers. (See: http://www.mondotimes.com/member/register.html)
According to the Mondo Times Media Rating Guide: Registered members of the Mondo Times can rate and review every media outlet we cover. Currently there are four ratings -- popularity, content quality, political bias and credibility. (See: http://www.mondotimes.com/about/ratings.html)
If you pay either the $149 or the $349 dues, you get a walloping amount of things, like media mailing addresses, email addresses for press releases, email addresses for questions/comments, links to "contact us" pages, editorial telephone numbers, and editorial fax numbers. The only extra benefit that comes with the Professional Membership to Mondo Times is "5 Media Lists from EasyMediaList.com" - and this little add-on comes with a hefty $200 price tag over the $149 Advanced Membership. The Basic Membership, of which there is evidently no charge whatsoever, comes with media website links, submit media ratings & reviews (so any level of member gets to give a thumb's up or a thumb's down to each and every media organization in the USA - writer's note), names of editorial contacts, and media mailing addresses (All Basic Membership benefits are also part of the Advanced and Professional Membership rosters, by the way - writer's note). (See ibid: http://www.mondotimes.com/member/register.html)
In looking over this very unimpressive Mondo Times services offering, I firmly believe a lab chimp that has been trained on one or two things about cyberspace and who can manipulate a keyboard can come up with everything on this benefit list, except maybe for the "5 Media Lists from EasyMediaList.com". (See ibid: http://www.mondotimes.com/member/register.html)
To be fair, though, it looks like Mondo Times would be a great tool for professional spammers. Of course, to be not only fair, but even a bit magnanimous, I guess it wouldn't be a bad thing to have a subscription to Mondo Times at a public relations business or some type of entity that sends out a lot of press releases and sundry correspondences to media outlets coast-to-coast, like the criminals involved with Ponzi schemes or for someone who's trying to get a lot of free blotters published in "community news" agate type from coast to coast, like a fly-by-night that's marketing a new brand of "see through clothing X-Ray sunglasses;" or perhaps, some lonely prisoner in a Supermax who has nothing but time on his hands and is interested in finding a literate and informed mass of pen pals, and possibly even a lonely, obese, bookwormish, bifocaled, small-town librarian willing to wed him at the prison temple.
And as far as the very low rankings of The Times West Virginian are concerned, my intelligence sources have confirmed that all the socialist and communist subscribers to that left-wing radical newspaper, The Charleston Gazette, have been ordered by the brainwashing experts at the Gazette to sign up for the Mondo Times and totally diss TTWV en masse.
And I find it very suspect that what is widely considered by actual members of the newspaper industry as probably the absolute worst major daily in America, the hideous and horrid The Daily Oklahoman, of Oklahoma City, Okla., didn't make any of the "Worst of - " newspaper or media organization lists offered on Mondo Times.
According to The Free Republic's April 28, 2003 posting of a Columbia Journalism Review essay by Bruce Selcraig titled "The Worst Newspaper in America": One Sunday morning many months ago the Rev. Robin Meyers stood before some five-hundred members of his eclectic flock at Mayflower Congregational Church in Oklahoma City and ruminated about what he might do if he ever won a lottery jackpot. "I said I would give a lot of money to education, children, the homeless, that sort of thing," he recalls. "Then I mentioned that if there were any money left over I would start what this city really needs -- a competing daily newspaper to The Daily Oklahoman . . . Well, everyone just started applauding. The place went wild. And this is not a wild church. Even the Republicans were clapping." (See: http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/901893/posts)
That same Sunday, like every day in Oklahoma City, a group of news-starved citizens ranging between five thousand and ten thousand, depending upon the quality of the football season, bought what many here call the most respected daily newspaper in town -- a paper produced two-hundred miles away, The Dallas Morning News.
"I simply won't subscribe to The Daily Oklahoman. They skew the news," says one of the local defectors, junior college professor Frank Silovsky.
"I'm always encouraging my students to read newspapers," says former Oklahoman city editor Randy Splaingard, a journalism professor at Oklahoma City University, "but I never require that they read the Oklahoman. The Constitution forbids cruel and unusual punishment."
"I have to read it," says Oklahoma Democratic political consultant and former Oklahoma City reporter Mike Carrier, "but it is without question the worst metropolitan newspaper in America."
Maybe you could find critics like these in any American city where an influential newspaper and billionaire publisher reign, but it's doubtful they could match the fervor of these aggrieved Oklahomans, these Democrats and Republicans of all colors and classes, ranchers, teachers, oil executives. They live with a civic wound that's been festering for twenty-five years, a newspaper whose unflattering nickname has become so ingrained in the state lexicon that from Muskogee to Guymon hardly a literate soul doesn't know of "The Daily Disappointment." (See ibid (for above five paragraphs in italics at: http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/901893/posts)
Although this article was published more than a decade ago, another writer who knows journalism recently went on published record with barbed criticism for The Daily Oklahoman. In a Dec. 22, 2013 online post on the Red Dirt Report, Andrew W. Griffin's article "Putting the 'low' in 'yellow journalism,'": When the Columbia Journalism Review issue was released in 1999, a Red Dirt Report reader, who worked at a local bookstore at the time, recalled store managers instructing employees to only sell two copies per person because 'The Oklahoman staff was coming around buying up all issues that stated The Oklahoman was the 'Worst Newspaper in America.'" (See: http://www.reddirtreport.com/prairie-opinions/putting-low-yellow-journalism-oklahoman-engages-unprecedented-smear-campaign)
The Red Dirt Report piece continues: Led by the Gaylord family's right-wing political views and allowing an alleged racist work environment that was more reminiscent of 1958 than 1998, the negative attention must have gotten the Gaylord's attention because efforts were made at OPUBCO to be more balanced and include stories people actually wanted to read. (See ibid: http://www.reddirtreport.com/prairie-opinions/putting-low-yellow-journalism-oklahoman-engages-unprecedented-smear-campaign)
Sadly, those efforts didn't translate into the fine newspaper it could have become. Instead, the shabby organ of the Oklahoma establishment went into the 2000's facing declining daily and Sunday subscriptions, a reduced circulation area, fewer reporters and plummeting staff morale....And because of new economic realities facing many newspapers in America, The Oklahoman found itself sharing news content with the Tulsa World, a newspaper I actually read daily - and liked, to a degree - when I was a college student in the early-to-mid-1990's in neighboring northwest Arkansas. However, once the content-sharing began, I felt worse for the Tulsa-area readers who have had to endure the content from The Oklahoman in their once-independent newspaper. - See more at: http://www.reddirtreport.com/prairie-opinions/putting-low-yellow-journalism-oklahoman-engages-unprecedented-smear-campaign#sthash.2vJCIgBS.dpuf (See ibid: http://www.reddirtreport.com/prairie-opinions/putting-low-yellow-journalism-oklahoman-engages-unprecedented-smear-campaign)
According to the Wikipedia page for The Oklahoman: Like most U.S. newspapers, The Oklahoman has seen a decline of 42.3% in daily circulation and 34.8% drop in Sunday circulation from 2007 to the end of 2012. Figures from the Alliance for Audited Media (formerly Audit Bureau Circulation) show that daily subscriptions dropped from 195,399 to 112,733 and Sunday subscriptions dropped from 264,524 to 172,415. (See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Oklahoman)
Having worked for more than 20 years overall as a reporter and editor at sundry newspapers and business journals gives me at least some "expert voice" criteria for giving my own impressions of why journalism is the absolute worst of the worst of all occupations. And here's my own 10 reasons why no young person should ever apply to become a print reporter:
1) Even if you're a blazing glory journalist and consider yourself wielding a torch for truth, liberty and justice, not one of your readers will believe a word you write. According to the Pew Research Center: The public's assessment of the accuracy of news stories is now at its lowest level in more than two decades of Pew Research surveys, and Americans' views of media bias and independence now match previous lows. (See: http://www.people-press.org/2009/09/13/press-accuracy-rating-hits-two-decade-low/)
Just 29% of Americans say that news organizations generally get the facts straight, while 63% say that news stories are often inaccurate. In the initial survey in this series about the news media's performance in 1985, 55% said news stories were accurate while 34% said they were inaccurate. That percentage had fallen sharply by the late 1990s and has remained low over the last decade, the article continues.(See: http://www.people-press.org/2009/09/13/press-accuracy-rating-hits-two-decade-low/)
The Pew Research Center goes on to say: Republicans continue to be highly critical of the news media in nearly all respects. However, much of the growth in negative attitudes toward the news media over the last two years is driven by increasingly unfavorable evaluations by Democrats. On several measures, Democratic criticism of the news media has grown by double-digits since 2007. Today, most Democrats (59%) say that the reports of news organizations are often inaccurate; just 43% said this two years ago. Democrats are also now more likely than they were in 2007 to identify favoritism in the media: Two-thirds (67%) say the press tends to favor one side rather than to treat all sides fairly, up from 54%. And while just a third of Democrats (33%) say news organizations are "too critical of America," that reflects a 10-point increase since 2007. (See ibid: http://www.people-press.org/2009/09/13/press-accuracy-rating-hits-two-decade-low/)
And as you trek on your voyage as a newspaper reporter, you will discover - especially if you work for a small- or medium-sized daily newspaper, that you're actually employed by the Republican and Democratic powers-that-be, along with the business interests in your community, and that no, you don't work at a newspaper at all. Actually, you work for the local government entities, the local Chamber of Commerce, and for the stores and businesses in your area. If your city has a big populace of very religious residents, you might also spend a lot of time working for the Roman Catholic Church, a Southern Baptist group of congregations, or the Mormon Church. And if you move to Asia and learn to write in those funny looking letters, you better write a lot of flattering little news snippets about Buddha and Tao, and writing a lot of feature stories about Buddhist and Taoist temples will help out, too.
Some bozo who wears clashing colors most days and very drab suits when there are business appointments on his schedule, who takes up space and adds weight to your newspaper's front office, a guy called the "Publisher," signs your measly little paycheck; but you don't work for this guy. No, you work the your local political bosses and the rich fat cats in town. They love to get their names in the paper, but they can be really temperamental and nasty if you don't work them into enough stories and holy harmonica forbid, if you paint them in print in any infamous or compromising light, they'll want to see you cleaning out your desk and leaving town. Keep that apple cart out of the ditch, and don't drink too much alcohol on the job - it'll cloud your thinking and ruin your reasoning.
2) The work is hard, stressful, and even on your days off, you're still working. Do you like writing news copy and reporting on timely events so much that you'll have to interview dignitaries and write in your sleep? Well, being a reporter might just be the dream job for you, since you'll be working nonstop, all day and all night, sometimes, and even on your days off.
But if you work 16 days in a row, your newspaper's publisher, managing editor, city editor, or sometimes, the cleaning lady or the guy who breaks up cardboard boxes and throws them into the company dumpster might sign a document giving you something called "comp time." Comp time is time off off as recompense for money the paper actually owes you for your long labors out in the field and clicking and clacking away at your desk; but not to worry, something's bound to come up on your beat on your "comp time" day off, like a dog getting loose and run over by a train, a pack or rabid snarling raccoons invading a neighborhood, or a small utility shed ending up being set on fire by a ratpack of hoodlums, and you'll be expeditiously called in to the newsroom to work on your "comp time" day off.
3) Do you like multi-tasking? Well, you'll have to do an astronomical amount of things that even NASA's most sophisticated computers cannot calculate - all at the same time, every day, at breakneck speed, particularly on deadline. Can you write a story on deadline that's essential to be camera-ready in seven minutes, eat a sandwich, drink a coffee and glug down some whiskey and pop some high-octane pain relievers you keep in the bottom draw of your hard-cornered steel desk as a stress reliever, interview the new state senator on the phone and answer the questions being barked at you from the city editor from 40 feet across the cluttered, messy, overcrowded newsroom - all at the same time? Well get used to it, kid, that's something you'll have to learn on the job since they never told you how to honcho such matters in J-School.
4) The pay is low, even by "boat people" standards. So you might consider moving up the economic ladder, early on, to improve your financial wherewithal, by becoming a migrant worker, a thrift-store shelfer, a dog dung collector, or you might even be able to apply for Social Security Disability after you wind up with bi-polar disorder or paranoid schizophrenia after your tenure in this dysfunctional mess called "journalism" comes to a screeching halt when you get committed to an insane asylum.
Sure, you need a bachelor's degree to even get an interview at the smallest newspaper these days, and even the big papers are stingy and don't pay much. Even the worst stock-brokering firm in the vilest of boiler-room work environments pays 10-to-15 times what you'll make as a reporter at your state's largest daily. And don't ever think it's not manual labor, since sometimes it is, especially when you have to stand for ten hours straight every workday, and sometimes, yes, even on Saturdays, in the back of a crowded, standing-room-only courtroom with sweat rolling down your face and cheeks and gums since it's so friggin' humid in this nasty place - a virtual sauna of people odor, for weeks on end. Or, for a lesser three-and-a-half hours' take, in the blazing 90-degree sun when the governor comes to town on the Fourth of July and you have to write a feature story, a sidebar, a color story for the front page and even take pictures for this event. I'm not going to mention the 5K walk or run you'll be doing daily by hopping around various government buildings in a congested downtown where using a car is not an option, since there's nowhere to park anywhere within five miles. You can figure this one out as you go. Forget about joining a gym, though, you'll get plenty fit by doing your journalism aerobics routine. And when that "me time" finally comes around, you'll just be too exhausted to work out. Or do you like walking on a tread mill during Rapid Eye Movement sleep?
5) When everyone in town loves you, you're actually a terrible reporter; when half the town loves you and the other half hates you, you're a pretty good reporter; and when everyone in town wants to fillet you alive because they hate you so much, well, you're a dandy reporter, a real bastion for truth, First Amendment blazing glory, and the American Way.
And remember, when you're a newspaper reporter, you're in the public eye all the time and you're a public figure. So if you like to carouse around all night long bar hopping; if you oftentimes get into bar fights and to go to work with black eyes; or if you frequently frequent strip clubs; ride a Harley-Davidson in a motorcycle gang; become involved with radical movements; enjoy going to casinos, racetracks, simulcast betting facilities and Texas hold'em card rooms; or if you're openly gay (or even openly heterosexual, for that matter), you might want to consider another line of work, like getting a nighttime job as a movie theater usher. It'll be better pay and a lot less stress and you'll be free to open up a lifestyle you'll actually enjoy, being freed from the hamster cage called "journalism." Remember: Everyone's watching your every move in the news biz.
6) Get used to the progress reports from management, there'll be many and they will never stop. No matter how well you do, there's always "room for improvement" when you write for a newspaper. Even if you've won innumerable AP awards, you're not there yet, the city editor and managing editor will always say. And if you do a super-duper job one quarter, work all your days off and never complain about management, and nobody in town complains much about your stories or your lifestyle, you might get a 10 cent a week raise.
7) Say you do a fantastic job at the little daily and get a job on a big mother ship paper in the big city, it's the same-old, same-old thing once you "arrive", only the hoops are a lot smaller and a lot higher with the big career move up the ladder. Yes, but you've gotten several hundred dollars more a week in pay and better benefits. And don't ever think of returning to the little daily if things don't work out on the big mother ship, since you left them and they're a very vindictive lot. They won't have anything good to say about you, even on Judgment Day. And the guy they hired as your replacement has a big tattoo of a hippopotamus on his head, he refuses to work on Saturdays and Sundays, saying "It's against my religious beliefs" (even though you know he's an atheist), and if that ain't the pits, he's also a member of the Democratic Party and the paper you just left really swings to the Republican side of the fence.
8) Get used to buying cheap used cars, because that's all you'll be able to afford as an ace, cracker-jack, news star. And when you've driven your rickety machine a few years, it'll be junkyard approved, with most of the parts so worn-out and frazzled that even a wrecking yard won't have any use for them to be resold to the boneyard-picking set of overhauled dipshits - all those shade-tree mechanics who flock to that high and long, fenced, rustic estate known as Bozo Bob's Junks, Sunks & Trunks.
But if you want to ride a bicycle, you can probably afford a pretty good new one, maybe even a 10-speed. But if you've decided to buy and ride a bike around, you'll be peddling like you're in the Tour de France; and if you have a car, be willing to put several thousand miles on your vehicle every month, because you'll be driving all over hell's nation covering stories for the rag.
It's here, there and everywhere time now. Usually, all at the same time, but all over the place, too. But the paper reimburses you 3 cents a mile, and though it doesn't cover gas, at least every month or so, it adds up to a few cups of industrial-grind coffee at the fast food joint down the street from the paper. Oh, and develop a good taste for coffee. The caffeine will keep you awake on those 13-hour nonstop working days. Believe me, they happen. More than you'll ever want to know right now, but yes, they do occur.
9) You'll be fine with the local cops in town as long as you only take pictures and write stories about their brand new police cars, recently badged K-9 units, and all the plaques and medals they are awarded at FOP banquets.
But if you ever write a negative story about a cop, you'll have every squad car in the city trailing you wherever you go. So do your drinking at home or in the alley behind the newspaper and don't drive around in your 1989 Toyota June Bug delirious, shit-faced, and stoned-to-the-bones. The city's finest will nab you, cuff you, throw you to the asphalt, then rough you up quite a bit. And not only will they charge you with drunken driving, they'll add on a whole litany of felonies, too.
Police can be very vindictive and you'll quickly discover that cops and reporters have about the same sort of relationship as lions and hyenas, or cops and robbers.
To get some leeway for yourself, call up the police chief often and get quotes from him. Even if the article you're writing has nothing to do with criminology or police procedural, work the police chief in to at least eight or nine articles per week. Quote him about the new little league stadium; the new swimming pool for the blind, deaf and dumb; the $250 donation the local militia group gave to the town's public library; the local birdwatchers groups and the newly elected members of the YMCA. If the bishop visits a nursing home, call up the police chief and ask him for a comment. That way, if the cops in town follow you around like you're the local axe murderer, you can have a private meeting with the chief and explain your circumstances to him. He'll let his minions know to lay off. He really will, and remember he likes you because you've made him a superstar and even the mayor calls him "Your Highness". And after you have your little sit-down and gripe to the police chief about the boys in blue following you everywhere, work the chief in to at least 12-15 stories every week to keep the grace period going. Now it's time to up the ante or there'll be hell to pay!
10) Enjoy your new job as a general assignment reporter and remember, you can always move your way up the list to No. 198 on the website that looks like it was put together by a murder of drunken crows - the Universal Worst Jobs list put out next year by the political pressure group, Communism Is Fun and Everyone Should Try It. - No. 198 on the new list, by the way, is a camel-hair grooming/looming machine operator, Or if you're lucky, move on up to the No. 197 spot, a non-union, unskilled trades, jackhammer construction specialist. You always wanted nice abs and biceps, right? Just do it!
And if you stay in journalism and in your second year as a beat reporter you are awarded the Rutherford B. Hossenfeffer Prize for Distinguished Pig & Lamb Agricultural Reporting, just rest assured that Pulitzer is right down the line somewhere. It's coming, baby, it's coming . . . .