Falling from the ranks


I thought July 28 would mark five years of my having the best job in the world. Instead, it turns out I have the worst.

A few weeks ago career guidance site clued me in with its annual best-worst jobs in America that what I believed to be the greatest profession is in fact considered by some to be truly abysmal.

According to the list, which factored stress, income, work environment (emotional and physical), and outlook in its rankings, newspaper reporter is the worst job to have in 2013, ranking dead last out of 200 professions.

So, congratulations to you taxi drivers (146) and bus drivers (157), garbage collectors (160) and janitors (153), waiters (185) and dishwashers (187) of America — you might not have the best jobs on the list, but they’re better than mine.

After reading CareerCast’s dour summation of my profession, I may be inclined to agree:

“A job that has lost its luster dramatically over the past five years is expected to plummet even further by 2020,” the site says, and then quotes Paul Gillin, a social media marketer who founded, with his kick to the industry’s groin: “The print model is not sustainable. It will probably be gone within the next 10 years.”

It’s so bad for newspaper reporters that we (the collective pronoun for print journalists) took the dubious bottom spot from lumberjacks, last year’s worst job. “The inherent danger of working with heavy machinery in remote locations, coupled with low pay and poor job prospects, ranks lumberjack as one of the worst jobs of 2013,” CareerCast said. One of the worst, it said. Not THE worst.

So, at least we’re best at something. (I also think Gillin is wrong in his prediction of the impending knell of newspapers.)

Still, could it really be that bad for those of us with daily bylines? I called a high school vocational counselor, which ranked 52 on the list, to find out.

Daphne Derden-Willis is the director of career technology at Toledo Public Schools, and prior to that spent eight years as a high school counselor. I asked her, “is it better to be a vocational counselor rather than a newspaper reporter?”

“My opinion is, it depends on who you ask ... every individual has skills and talents. I have my own opinion of how I feel about the profession of counseling or being a journalist, but it is just that — my opinion. ... However, as a former counselor I will say from my experience, yes — counseling was a rewarding career move for me. I got to do what I love to do — help people do better.”

When I asked if job rankings such as this are credible and if “being a newspaper reporter [is] really that bad,” she replied, “You sound truly sad about the newspaper reporter ranking,” — which I am, as well as irritated — “I am confident to say you have a passion for what you do and that is great. I too understand that passion because of what I do and how I feel about being an educator. However, choosing a profession is like buying a house — it is such an individualized decision.”

Individualized, perhaps. But not necessarily.

I remember having a serious “what are you going to do with your life?” chat with my mom shortly before college. At that point, I wanted to major in theater and give professional acting a go. “There’s no money in acting,” she reasoned. “You won’t be able to support yourself.” She recommended I pursue print journalism as my future. Actors, by the way, were ranked 197.

Contact Kirk Baird at or 419-724-6734.