Considering the hits that the print media business has taken in recent years, it shouldn't come as a surprise that CareerCast.com has identified newspaper reporting as the worst job of 2013.
It's never been an easy job -- you're constantly on call and on deadline -- but that's what makes it such an honorable profession. But the other aspects of the business today -- less job openings, constant threat of layoffs, squeezing the life out of shrinking staffs of writers -- were the deciding factors in CareerCast's assessment.
I read the item with a feeling somewhere between relief (my own relief) and sympathy for colleagues still on the front lines. And I couldn't help thinking of all those great mythic figures in art -- from Penn Warren's Jack Burden to the unnamed reporter questing after Rosebud's identity in "Citizen Kane" -- that partly inspire you to consider that profession in the first place.
What are some other reporter-characters in literature? Lucien Chardon in Balzac's "Lost Illusions" -- does he count, even though he's just a hack? Peter Fallow in Wolfe's "Bonfire of the Vanities"? The character of "John Berendt" in "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil"? Who else? Lend me your thoughts.
I envy -- and worry about -- all those young college grads with journalism aspirations. They're entering a world where headlines aren't the brightest about their chosen vocation, and yet it's an occupation that's needed the most -- without reporters, how else do you keep the rest of the world honest?