In its annual evaluation of the waning and unpredictable job market, the vocational guidance website CareerCast.com published a list of the Top 10 worst jobs in America. Among the careers to reach CareerCast’s 10 most undesirables, including jobs that pose an eminent threat to the employees’ safety and the lack of job openings, newspaper journalists garnered the honor of being the worst job of 2013.
But CareerCast’s evaluation of journalism is flawed, in that it neglects the intrinsic qualities and motivation of journalists and the overall necessity of the industry.
While it is true that journalists are underpaid, overworked and the industry as a whole is dwindling due to online competition, there is inherent purpose in reporting the truth, an ideal that all journalists live by.
Journalism exists because it is human nature to be informed. It exists because it is essential to the well-being of society – hence the journalism industry’s credo that nothing is more important to the health of a successful democracy than a well-informed electorate.
Journalists also unearth the links between the information on the happenings of the world and connect them to the likenesses and ideologies of their home markets, linking the actions of Congress to the steel worker in Detroit or the farm owner in Texas. Journalists endure the tremulous conditions of everything from the war in the Middle East to the score of the Rays game, seeking the humanity and inhumanity of the entire spectrum of the world’s events with the hope that their actions are met with an engaging audience.
But that audience has depleted over the years as interests faded from relative information on global issues to the daily happenings of Honey Boo Boo. This is not to say that all of the population has given up on the pursuit of relevant news information nor does it undermine the entertainment factor that reality television proposes.
The problem with the journalism industry is not that the work is too stressful.
Most journalists can strive on stress and handle more than one story or idea at the same time. The issue is that the audience that once thrived off the knowledge gained from professional newspapers is now drawn to the instantaneous allure of the Internet.
As much as the overextended use of the Internet for personal knowledge has grown, the U.S. and the rest of the world would be at a detrimental loss without skilled, highly trained and ethical journalists to constantly weed out the truth and report it. It is easy to assume that the massive reach of the Internet can bring out the truth in any given scenario, but without a trained and knowledgeable gatekeeper to ensure factuality of the information the process would be nothing more than an anonymous corkboard of futility.
The journalism profession is never going to simply die out.
For as long as humanity continues to engage in the increasingly poignant and dramatic game known as life, there will be a dedicated journalist there to cover it. So despite the depressing economic factors that occupational advisers have pointed out and the overbearing stress involved with the 24-hour news cycle, journalists will continue to be the criers of information as long as the world is willing to listen.