The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

April 27, 2013

Nice work if you can get it

By Jeff Mullin, columnist
Enid News and Eagle

ENID, Okla. — I have a great job.

I get to routinely sweep the cobwebs from the dusty corners of my brain, compile my thoughts in some sort of cogent order and call them a newspaper column — and get paid for it, to boot.

I get to meet and interview a lot of interesting people and write stories about them. I edit copy, design pages, occasionally take photos, sometimes write obituaries, answer the phone and help customers at the front counter.

I’ve been doing virtually the same thing for more than 37 years, and I can’t imagine myself doing anything else.

I have a great job, despite the fact it is the worst job in America.

Let me clarify: I have the worst job in America, it isn’t that I do the worst job in America. Thank goodness for Congress, is all I’ve got to say.

My job is the worst in the country, according to the career guidance website CareerCast.com. The folks there evaluated 200 professions spanning a variety of industries, skill levels and salary ranges to suss out the best and worst jobs of 2013.

For each job, four core criteria were measured — pay, outlook, work environment and stress — using data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Census Bureau and trade association studies, among other sources.

Each category was broken into elements, with each element assigned points. As in golf, the lowest score won. The lower the score, the more desirable the job.

Coming in dead last with a score of 1,120 points was newspaper reporter. We finished behind lumberjacks by only three points.

“A job that has lost its luster dramatically over the past five years is expected to plummet even further by 2020,” according to CareerCast.com.

The site quotes blogger Paul Gillin, who writes a blog called “Newspaper Death Watch,” as saying “the print model is not sustainable. It will probably be gone within the next 10 years.”

I disagree and, apparently, so do many very rich people.

Warren Buffett, the Sage of Omaha, has acquired 28 daily newspapers in the last 15 months, including the Tulsa World.

Colorado billionaire Philip Anschutz has purchased several newspapers in recent years, including the Daily Oklahoman, San Francisco Examiner, Colorado Springs Gazette and Washington, D.C., Examiner.

And the rumor is the billionaire Koch brothers, owners of Koch Industries, are interested in buying the Tribune newspaper chain, a group that includes the Los Angeles Times and Chicago Tribune.

Granted, the newspaper business has changed in recent years, affected, like every other form of media, by the digital revolution.

But even if actual printed newspapers go the way of the Model T (and I doubt that will happen anytime soon) news-gathering and editing, photography and design skills, still are needed to produce web-based news products.

Thus I dispute the fact the outlook for newspaper reporters in poor.

The pay, I grant you, is not great. But those of us in the business did not get into it for the money, or if we did, we need to have our heads examined.

Likewise, I concede the job can be stressful. It goes with the territory, and yes, that is a bottle of antacids in my briefcase.

As far as work environment, I have the opportunity to work with some truly unique people. As Craig Wilson, columnist and reporter for USA Today, once wrote about never having had his own office: “Instead I have spent my whole career in newsrooms, open spaces filled with rows of cluttered desks occupied by people on the edge of mainstream society. A perfect fit for me.”

And me, too. I can’t imagine being an actuary, for instance, which Career Cast.com ranks as the best job in America.

I don’t even know what it is, but it received 123 points in the CareerCast.com poll.

Gee, reporters were only 997 points behind.

I wouldn’t want to be a biomedical engineer or software engineer, either, the No. 2 and No. 3 jobs, according to CareerCast.com.

Rounding out the list of the worst jobs are enlisted military personnel, actor, oil rig worker, dairy farmer, meter reader, mail carrier, roofer and flight attendant.

The fact that enlisted military personnel are on this list is a crime. It just underscores what a debt this nation owes them as they fight our wars and help keep us free.

The worst job in America? I don’t think so. I am doing what I want to do, I am doing what I have wanted to do since I was in high school and I am doing what I am good at. What more could a person ask?

I would think the worst job in the country would be one you hate and are not qualified for. For anyone in that position, you have my sympathy.



Mullin is senior writer of the News & Eagle. Email him at jmullin@enidnews.com.