Jessica Sieff: It could be worse — you could be a lumberjack

Published 9:10 pm Wednesday, April 18, 2012

A recent survey by made headlines, ironically enough, when it listed being a reporter as the fifth worst job one might have in 2012.

The fifth worst job?! How can this be? The same profession held by Cronkite? Murrow? Gellhorn? Jennings? Brokaw? Wallace? Nellie Bly? Winchell? Woodward? Bernstein? Hearst? Pulitzer? Hunter S. Thompson? Seymour Hersh? Maureen Dowd?

The worst job a person could have is that of a lumberjack. A lumberjack, people.

That means that if being a lumberjack is the worst job a person could have … being a reporter is pretty damn close.

Hearing that news wasn’t great news, personally speaking. Especially after recently picking up “The Death and Life of American Journalism” by Robert W. McChesney and John Nichols. I’ve only started reading the book and the first handful of pages is a lot like reading “Little Women.” You know, the chapter where you realize Beth is really, REALLY sick. And it’s not looking good.

McChesney and Nichols claim that journalism will rebound, however, so there’s hope for the hundreds of pages I have yet to read.

What does all of this mean and why does it matter if it sucks to be a reporter?

I realize I write about journalism a lot. I romanticize it because I love it so much. My dream dinner party would be sitting around a table in a pub with Brokaw, Koppel, Sawyer and Amanpour drinking bourbon and smoking cigars and discussing everything from the greatest generation to Mideast peace. But I’ve learned that if you don’t talk about what’s important, it stops being important. And journalism is important.

I can’t help but wonder, with shrinking budgets and lack of readership, is there anybody out there getting paid to really investigate what happened between Martin and George Zimmerman in a non-bias way? Because reporters used to get paid to do that. To put in the time, invest their lives into their stories and bring to light what remained in the dark.

I can hear the laughter. Reporters aren’t looked at as objective anymore, is that it? Maybe that’s a matter of circumstance. Maybe it’s nature; maybe it’s nurture. A lot of emphasis is put on the technological challenges faced by our industry today. Nobody wants to pick up a newspaper; nobody can afford to print one.

But what we’re overlooking is the challenges rooted in the American habit. People also don’t behave or think the same way we used to. And that affects us. I trust reporters — the ones that are good and you know it. I trust them because I know they’re going into a story looking to observe from all angles. That they’re not here to play to a partisan line or even a company line. You may not believe it, but it’s true.

But the day will come, like they’ve come before. When injustice goes unnoticed until someone with a pen or a pencil, or an iPhone or an iPad isn’t just interested in getting exposure — but rather in getting the whole story. And getting it right. And when that day comes again and everyone looks up from the Kardashians to notice — maybe things will change for the better.

In short — mark my words, journalists will rebound.

And for the record, I politely disagree with the aforementioned survey. Being a reporter is not one of the worst jobs a person could have. It’s friggin’ awesome.