GUEST COMMENTARY: We might be journalists, but at least we're not lumberjacks

Friday, April 18, 2014 | 6:00 a.m. CDT; updated 7:21 p.m. CDT, Saturday, April 19, 2014

Last week, listed the top 200 jobs in the United States. Many journalism jobs were down at the bottom of the "best" list:

Job rankings: (out of 200)

1. Mathematician

2. Tenured university professor

3. Statistician

4. Actuary

5. Audiologist

6. Dental hygienist ...

140. Public Relations Executive

186. Photojournalist

196. Broadcaster

199. Newspaper reporter

A group of journalism students at MU were asked to look at the list and reflect on their choice of career path. Here are a few of their observations.

A lot of hubbub has been made about a freshly released list of the 200 best jobs of 2014, specifically among journalists. grades jobs on the quality of their work environment, their level of stress and their hiring outlook.

Using these metrics, the list’s top three professions are mathematician, tenured university professor and statistician, in that order.

Journalists had to scroll for a while to find familiar titles. No. 186, photojournalist. No. 196, broadcaster. And finally, the list’s penultimate job: newspaper reporter.

People across the Web have responded to the list by saying that journalism is one of the worst professions in the world. Correction: It’s the 199th-best.

Let’s look at why we’re ranked so low. Journalism’s hiring outlook is grim. We know that. We hear it from everyone — other journalists, professors, well-meaning but confused family members. So in that regard, this list isn’t breaking news.

Next, the stress and work environment. This is a given. Journalism has always been an intense, fast-paced field, and it’s only speeding up with the rise of digital media.

We don’t have time to rest on our laurels and ponder the great mysteries of life (I’m looking at you, tenured professors).

Obviously the ranking is less than ideal, but consider it this way: Journalists are built to work on tight deadlines, so who can be surprised that we made this list by the skin of our teeth?

Anyway, it could be worse. We could all be lumberjacks.

— Hudson Kyle is a senior studying magazine journalism at MU.

I think we can all agree that jobs are pretty important. Considering the amount of time and money one spends and earns at a job, it is fair to say that they have a significant impact on overall happiness and well-being.

That said, it’s imperative to make sure that they don't end up being the bane of your existence.

Fortunately, you can thank your lucky stars that there are countless different compilations of job suggestions and warnings released each year in the hopes of sparing a few unsuspecting souls from entering miserable careers. puts together one of these notable lists, taking 200 jobs from the Jobs Rated report and ranking them from “Best to Worst.” With rankings based on work environment, stress, hiring outlook and income, the list seems to use a well-organized system — that is, if you completely disregard personal skills or interests.

Just to give some perspective, the first six “best” jobs on the list — mathematician, tenured professor, statistician, actuary, audiologist and dental hygienist — are those I would consider a place of purgatory to be employed at. 

Ironically, some of the lower or “worst” jobs on the list — choreographer, author, event coordinator, publication editor, recreation worker and photographer — are some of my dream jobs. 

For me, it did not take long to realize that this list is of little assistance to me in my career-path dilemmas. Like most people, my career choices place priority on skills and interests over expected work environment or income. 

Although I advise people to value the work environment, stress level, hiring probability and income of a potential career, I encourage them not to do so at the expense of their interests and talents.

— Nina Buckhalter is a senior studying convergence journalism at MU.

It all starts with a basic childhood question: What do you want to be when you grow up?

For the most part, the answers will remain constant. Astronaut, firefighter and professional athlete will usually fit their way into the top three.

But when released its of the best jobs of 2014, the results looked slightly different than the nation’s childhood aspirations of yesteryear.

According to the list, the nation’s best jobs are mathematician, tenured university professor and statistician.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure all of these are excellent jobs that pay well and create a very low level of stress.

But it makes me wonder: Where is all the glory?

Growing up, I have always been interested in living an adventurous life. Not necessarily a dangerous one by any means, but one that is a step or two above working in a flimsy cubicle with an excellent view of the neighboring office building.

When looking for a career, I searched for an outlet to gain a whole lot of life experience in a short amount of time. I yearned for interpersonal connection over high pay and a fancy tablet. And when it came time to make a decision, I chose the field of journalism.

Here I am, almost three years into the program at MU. Through my nearly six semesters, I have learned to take pride in my major and to take pride in my profession.

So when named the profession of newspaper journalism as one of the “worst of the best,” I was taken aback.

Sure, my years in the field can be counted on one hand, but that doesn’t mean that I should believe that being a journalist is as bad as they make it out to be.

In this list, there are three forms of criteria: work environment, stress and hiring outlook. This means that the website favors jobs that have nice environments, low stress and a fairly high hiring outlook.

But this raises the question: Does low stress always equal reward?

In all honesty, some of my best work is produced under harsh conditions. As the old saying goes, “Difficult roads lead to beautiful destinations.”

While evaluating the quality of my profession, it will not be based on whether the workload is stressful or not. Instead it will hinge on the satisfaction I get from pushing myself, to always improve rather than settle for something comfortable.

Instead of sitting back and enjoying an easy career, challenge yourself to do something that makes you grow. It’ll make your inner-child proud.

— Joey Ukrop is a junior studying magazine journalism at MU

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