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Reporters get least desirable honors

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Home eviction enforcers, port-a-john attendants, professional fish eviscerators of America -- rejoice!

Yours is not the nation's least desirable job, according to the CareerCast.com Jobs Rated report for 2013. This year, that honor goes to the newspaper reporter, which the job search website ranked 200th in a list of 200 professions analyzed.

If being a newspaper reporter is now considered the least desirable of professions in a national report, I can only imagine how low being a newspaper reporter in West Virginia would be rated.

Finishing just ahead of newspaper reporters in the ratings were lumberjacks, who would probably be placed much higher if they were referred to as loggers, their preferred job title; enlisted military personnel, who earn more than newspaper reporters but live more stressful and dangerous lives; and actors, who seldom find full-time work, and make an average of $17.49 an hour.

Due to the low wages and high stress associated with the job through the ages, newspaper reporters have never come close to reaching even the top half of the annual CareerCast ratings, now in their 25th year. But in the last five years, the desirability of my chosen profession has plummeted, due to "ever-shrinking newsrooms, dwindling budgets and competition from Internet businesses," according to the report.

With earnings dropping more than 50 percent between 2006 and 2011, the newspaper business "is not sustainable" and "will probably be gone within the next ten years," according to an industry analyst cited by CareerCast.

Pinned to the wall of my newsroom cubicle is a photo of a smiling, hopeful, clean-shaven looking version of me on the front of my first press card, issued by the long-defunct Oregon Statesman during my stint there as an intern reporter. I had no inkling at the time that becoming a newspaper reporter, which seemed pretty cutting-edge at the time, would play out as the 21st century's version of the video rental clerk.

With a Bureau of Labor Statistics-computed, downward-trending median salary of $36,000 and a projected industry growth rate of -6 percent, there may be no logic to wanting to remain in newsbiz game any longer than it takes to get a new job.

But I don't qualify for, and am not interested in, any of the jobs listed at the top of the Jobs Rated report -- actuary, biomedical engineer and software engineer -- and I still like the work that's involved in my apparently dead-end career. So it looks like I'll ride this tired old horse into the sunset. Or until a European food wholesaler buys it for hamburger.

As the saying goes, old newspaper reporters never die -- they just meet their deadlines.

Or if absolutely necessary, get a job in public relations.


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