Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

I'm not a lumberjack: his job's better

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My job sucks!

For the benefit of my beneficent employers, I would hasten to add this is not my opinion.

No, this is the opinion of the heartless research analysts at CareerCast.com, a prestigious job-search and career-guidance website that, for the last 25 years, has evaluated 200 professions to determine the best and worst jobs available.

CareerCast.com ranks these professions from best to worst on four "core criteria" -- work environment, income, stress and hiring outlook -- and this year "newspaper reporter" was officially declared the worst job imaginable, trailing the entire (bad word) pack at No. 200.

Sure, we defend the public's right to know, and in the movies we're portrayed by hunky actors (for the record, "actor" is the fourth-worst job) like Robert Redford, but that doesn't impress CareerCast.com, which describes the life of an ink-stained wretch as follows:

"Newspaper reporters have fared poorly in the report for years due to the job's high stress and tight deadlines, low pay and requirement to work in all conditions to get the story. Ever-shrinking newsrooms, dwindling budgets and competition from Internet businesses have created a very difficult environment, finally driving the position to dead last on this year's Jobs Rated Report."

Well, thanks, CareerCast.com. Thanks a lot. I know what you newspaper readers are thinking right now. You are thinking: "Reporter is the worst job in the world? Seriously? What about dentists?"

I am, of course, kidding around in a light-hearted manner. I faced the wrath of the dental community a few years back when, in a moment of madness, I wrote a column suggesting dentists enjoy poking people with pointy metal instruments simply because they need to make payments on their yachts.

In hindsight, that was a stupid thing to say. I now realize not all dentists have yachts. Out of journalistic fairness, I should point out dentists (No. 42 on the list) and dental hygienists (an impressive No. 6) are hugely respected compared with us lowly journalists and also have cleaner teeth and fresher breath.

Last year, you'll recall, reporter was rated the fifth-worst job on CareerCast.com's list, but this year we managed to displace lumberjack -- which had held the No. 200 spot for a couple of years -- as the worst job in the world of work.

Admittedly, there are some drawbacks to being a reporter, such as you never know when you will get a nasty paper cut or when an editor will order you to leave the safety of your office cubicle and come into direct contact with the public or, even worse, a politician.

Still, I'm not sure being scolded for improper use of the semi-colon is as menacing as having a medically valuable limb lopped off by a chainsaw or being flattened into a plaid-coloured stain by a pine tree larger than the Richardson Building.

Which somehow brings us to the top job in the world. Prepare to be confused, because this year "software engineer" was bounced out of the No. 1 spot in the rankings by (dramatic pause) the glamorous position of "actuary."

This raises a troubling journalistic question, namely: What the (very bad word) is an actuary? Perhaps someone who has spoken to one -- and remained awake during the conversation -- could write in and let us know.

According to CareerCast.com, however, an actuary is a person who, typically for insurance purposes, "interprets statistics to determine probabilities of accidents, sickness and death, and loss of property from theft and natural disasters."

Now that actuaries are No. 1, you can bet their social lives will be getting more statistically significant.

Girl in bar: "Can I buy you a drink, big boy?"

Actuary: "Statistics show drinking increases your risk of sudden death by 39.333 per cent, 19 times out of 20."

Girl in bar: "What a turn-on! Let's go back to my place!"

For now, I'd like to reassure any actuary who is currently considering suing me that I am kidding in a non-libellous manner. In fact, I think it would be fun to hang out with people in the No. 1 job in the world. You could crunch the numbers and let us know exactly when we'll be beaten to death by lumberjacks.

As for my fellow downtrodden journalists, yes, we're struggling to survive in a harsh digital age, but there's a light at the end of the tunnel -- we literally have nowhere to go but up!

doug.speirs@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition May 1, 2013 A2

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Updated on Wednesday, May 1, 2013 at 7:28 AM CDT: adds fact box

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