Deciding The Worst Job

A website called CareerCast.com has declared what it considers to be the worst job in 2016:  newspaper reporter.  It’s the third year in a row that being a print journalist has ended up at the bottom on the desirable occupations list.

The website uses a methodology that looks at each job’s work “environment (emotional, physical and hours worked), income (growth potential and salary), outlook (employment growth, income growth potential and unemployment), and 11 stress factors to determine which professions are among the least desirable.”  Newspaper reporter ends up at the bottom of the list because the median annual salary isn’t that great, the outlook stinks because so many newspapers and other media outlets are closing, and there isn’t a lot of potential for career growth.  The best job, in contrast, is “data scientist,” where the median income is $128,240 and there is a strong growth outlook.

news-guySorry, but I disagree with this.  Good jobs and bad jobs aren’t just defined by salary and whether you’re in a thriving industry.  Other qualities — like being able to use your creativity and your brainpower, and whether the job involves noisy, smelly, dangerous, or otherwise unpleasant conditions — are important, and more important still is whether you like your boss and co-workers and look forward to getting to work in the morning.

Speaking as a former reporter, when those other qualities are considered, I think being a reporter is a pretty good option.  The job is always interesting, and at times, when you break a good story or write a particularly good lead, that you feel a nice little adrenalin rush.  Are you really going to get the same kind of feeling from being a boring, nerdy, white coat-wearing “data scientist”– which sounds like a puffed-up title, anyway?  And how can reporter possibly be less attractive than the traditional scutwork jobs, like sanitation worker or cubicle dweller?

Sorry, CareerCast.com.  You’ve totally missed the boat on this one.  There’s just no way that being a reporter is the worst job around.  Who knows?  Maybe the real worst job is ranking jobs for CareerCast.com.

A Peek Inside The Brittle, Thin-Skinned D.C. Bubble

Every once in a while we hear about a story that gives us a good sense of the warped world of politicians and journalists in Washington, D.C.  The recent snit between Bob Woodward and the White House is one of those stories.

In case you missed this earth-shattering tale, Bob Woodward — the Watergate reporter who has since made a career out of writing turgid, insider-based accounts of Washington events — was getting ready to write about “sequestration,” the Rube Goldberg process by which $85 billion in “automatic” spending cuts will be made today because our current President can’t lead and our current Congress can’t legislate.  When Woodward told a White House aide his view on the genesis of the “sequestration” concept and the President’s approach to it, he says the aide yelled at him for a half hour, then sent Woodward an email that stated, among other things, that Woodward would “regret” staking out his position on the issue.  Woodward, miffed, disclosed the exchange, which he saw as a veiled threat.

What does this tell us about Washington, D.C.?  It tells us that the White House is focused more on spin than solving problems and is amazingly thin-skinned about criticism.  “Sequestration” — the implementation of “automatic” spending cuts that were consciously designed to be so draconian and blunderbuss that they would force the parties to sit down and reach an agreement — is an idiotic way for our government to operate.  I don’t blame the White House for trying to blur its role in putting such lunacy into place.  The Democrat-controlled Senate, and the Republican-controlled House, are engaging in similar juvenile finger-pointing.  The notion of accepting responsibility and reaching agreement on a rational approach evidently is too adult a concept to hold sway in the weird world of Washington.

But what of Bob Woodward? He received a dressing down from some presidential flunky and then got an email he thought was ill-considered.  Big deal!  I guess the politicians and reporters in D.C. are so chummy that a few strong words are deeply wounding and cause for scandal.  Maybe that’s our problem.  The reporters and the politicians in the D.C. fishbowl are so used to stroking each other that real reporting never gets done and real accountability never gets assigned.  I’d be perfectly happy if more politicians and aides with bloated egos did some yelling at reporters tracking down the news, and more reporters shrugged off the tirades and printed what they and their editors decided was the real story.

No Teacher Left Behind

President Obama was in Columbus recently to tout his “jobs bill,” which would spend large amounts of federal money for teacher jobs and school building repairs.  According to the United Federation of Teachers — which, not surprisingly, supports the idea — the President’s proposal would spend $35 billion to preserve teacher jobs and another $25 billion fixing schools.

Why is it always teachers who benefit from these bills?  A lot of lawyers have lost their jobs recently — how about a costly federal program to spur the hiring of more briefcase-totin’, lawbook-quotin’ attorneys, so they can realize the American Dream?  Journalists also could use a hand.  Many newspapers have gone under or radically cut their staffs because nobody reads news the old-fashioned way anymore.  Or what about accountants?  Sure, they’re boring, and perhaps the recession just served as an excuse for companies to unload deadly dull bean-counters because nobody could stand to share a table with them in the cafeteria, but they could use our help, too.  So could insurance salesmen, and tugboat operators, and lumberjacks, and milkmen.

Perhaps President Obama justs walks into the West Wing every morning whistling Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young’s Teach Your Children.  Or maybe he’s heard the taunt about teachers that goes “those who can’t do, teach” and believes that our erstwhile educators won’t be able to find work if they lose their teaching gig.

Don’t get me wrong.  I like teachers — but there’s no reason why they should be favored over everybody else.  What about stimulus spending and jobs bills for every profession, craft, and trade?  It’s become the American Way!