According to careercast.com, in a story that appeared in last weekend's Citizen, the worst job in the world for 2013 is newspaper reporter.
What a load of crap.
It's not the worst job of 2013, it's the worst job EVER.
Let me tell you, it's horrible to be able to write for a living and tell stories about real people and real events in the world.
To have to talk to artists, athletes, politicians, scientists, teachers and ordinary people doing extraordinary things, some good and some bad, is so mind-numbingly boring. Who in their right mind would want to devote their working life to so wretched a task?
Some of the nonsense I've had to deal with in 25 years as a working journalist is enough to keep any idiot from considering enrolling in journalism school. I laugh in the face of the high school students who call me each spring to ask to job shadow in the newsroom. The only thing you'll learn here, I tell them before slamming the phone down, is how to swear in the proper verb tense.
Kids these days should study statistics so they can become an actuary, careercast.com's choice for best job of 2013. In case you've never heard of actuaries, these are the people who help insurance companies set their rates by poring over social data to calculate risk faced by individuals to suffer from accidents, disease and death.
That sounds like so much fun!
If only I could give back the last quarter century of work so I could start over and become an actuary.
That would have been way more interesting than my one-on-one interview with David Suzuki or with Alice Cooper. That would have been way more fun than going for a half-hour flight with the Snowbirds and testing the integrity of the barf bags on two separate occasions.
I also wouldn't have had to run through a cloud of tear gas while taking pictures during a riot or face charges of contempt of court for a column I wrote about not wanting to serve on a jury .I wouldn't have spent a morning crying my eyes out in the back of a funeral home during a service for twin newborn girls who were found in an outhouse pit with their umbilical cords still attached.
I wouldn't have had to hike through steep terrarin on a scorching Okanagan summer day to photograph forest fire fighters. It was ridiculous - I smelled like a campfire for the rest of the day. Worst assignment ever.
And I had to do it twice!
The second time I took a picture of a grieving teenage girl in front of the rubble that was once her home as she mourned the loss of the family cat. The national award I won for spot news photography and the award I shared with two other reporters for our coverage of the fire was poor compensation for just another rotten week working at the rotten newspaper.
I've been threatened, yelled at and had things thrown at me (the only ones that hit were thrown by newsroom colleagues). I've made horrible mistakes and I've written things I've later regretted. I've offended good people and written good things about offensive people. I've even got loved ones in trouble at their places of work because of my mistakes.
Worst of all, I've worked with some of the lowest forms of scum and villainy, as a wise Jedi Knight once said. I've shared working space with people who had their lives threatened and others who risked their lives to get the story.
None of the newspaper reporters I've worked with has gone any lower than former Citizen reporter Gordon Hoekstra, who now suffers daily at the Vancouver Sun. So what if there are logging truck drivers in central and northern B.C. who are alive today because of Hoekstra's work exposing their dangerous working conditions? Can you believe the provincial government wasted $20 million and appointed a forestry coroner to fix the problem his stories exposed? Even worse, the Governor-General gave The Citizen an award for that work.
Just another waste of taxpayers dollars!
To paraphrase Muhammad Ali, this job is so bad, it makes medicine sick.
Hoekstra isn't a complete moron, however, for being a newspaper reporter. At least he redeemed himself as a parent.
His son is studying to be an actuary.