Goshen News, Goshen, IN

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April 18, 2014

Finding the best in the ‘worst’

When I was 16 I started working part-time during the summer for my dad. At the time he was the street commissioner in Leesburg. I’d get up at 6 a.m. most days and drag myself into his red work truck. We’d pick up brush and grass clippings people set out, run the street sweeper, lay asphalt and empty the trash from the town-provided bins.

My least favorite part of the job was those days the town’s catch basins needed emptied. I was tasked with taking a post-hole digger and extracting all the leaves, muck and God knows what else that found its way into those basins.

For my dad, the job served the dual purpose of keeping me from lazing about all summer while more importantly teaching me that I should look for a career outside manual labor. For me it was a way to make $7.50 an hour at a time when all I needed for was gas money (Note: When I was 16 in 1997, gas on average was about $1.30 a gallon)

My dad worked in Leesburg until he was 66. Before his time in Leesburg he spent 28 years as a Chicago police officer.

There’s nothing wrong with being a garbage collector or construction worker. There’s honor in breaking a sweat and earning a day’s pay. I would see my dad come home with a broken hand or busted up shoulder. In his later years he had trouble getting off his shoes because his feet were so swollen. Seeing that I knew I wanted something different.

I always gravitated toward newspapers. I got a job as a stringer for my hometown paper the fall after my first summer working for my dad. I feel in love with it instantly.

The business is so much different now in the span of 17 years. It’s harder to work at a newspaper. Demands rise, pay remains static and newsrooms shrink. But I still love being a newspaper guy. So it always annoys me to no end when these “Worst Jobs” lists come out and year after year newspaper reporter is at or near the top.

The website CareerCast recently compiled a list based on different metrics, including pay, work conditions and job growth. The worst job in 2014 according to this website? Lumberjack. That seems like a sensible pick. It looks like hard work, it’s certainly dangerous and nobody’s getting rich doing it.

No. 2? Newspaper reporter. It ranks as a worse job than enlisted military personnel, garbage collector, firefighter and corrections officer. I was quite frankly embarrassed about this list. I have friends who have been in the military. To say our job is anywhere near as tough as theirs is insulting to those who served.

There are some dangerous assignments in this business. AP photographer Anja Niedringhaus was killed in Afghanistan earlier this month. Being an embedded journalist is quite dangerous. But that’s not the life of most reporters.

A list like this only emboldens an all-too-large segment of our profession. I’ve ran into a substantial number of reporters on both the news and sports side that act like they’re curing cancer. They’re easy to spot, they’re going to tell you in excruciating detail how demanding their job is. They just need a minute. They’re winded from a third trip to the hospitality room for hot dogs and cookies. I would imagine there are people like this in all walks of life. Too miserable for words.

I’m lucky here at The Goshen News where those people don’t exist. The pay isn’t great, the hours are long and we often work nights and weekends, but this job isn’t drudgery. It’s a privilege.

Here's a link to that Worst Jobs list

http://www.forbes.com/fdc/welcome_mjx.shtml



Daniel Riordan is night editor at The Goshen News. Follow him on Twitter at @DRiordan_TGN. Check out this and more TGN blogs at www.goshennews.com

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Daniel Riordan has been writing for newspapers since he was 16. Previous newspaper stops include Warsaw and Plymouth. He joined The Goshen News in March 2013 and is enjoying getting to know the city. He has up to this point been able to resist any urge to watch cat videos on YouTube.

I am a journalist for The Goshen News in Goshen, Ind. I handle regional news and am the digital content editor.

Shelly Wilfong is the director of the International Baccalaureat Degree program at Goshen High School in Goshen, Ind.

David Vantress is sports editor at The Goshen News. He is a 1994 journalism graduate of San Diego State University. David has opinions and isn't afraid to share them.

Sam Householder is the chief photographer at The Goshen News. He is a 2010 graduate of Ball State University, with a bachelor's degree in photojournalism. He lives in Goshen with his fiancee, Ashley, and their cat, Rascal.

Roger Schneider is city editor for The Goshen News. He enjoys bicycling, fishing and photography.

Scott Weisser is entertainment and emergency services editor for The Goshen News.