If You’re A Journalist You’re Not OK

Journalism joins lumberjacking on Worst Jobs list

Ever since Monty Python’s Lumberjack Song, there’s been something  ‘nudge-nudge, wink-wink’ about chopping down trees for a living. Conversely, being a journalist used to be OK. It was a career with kudos (think Woodward and Bernstein); it was the brilliant retort to the cocktail party question, “And what do you do for a living?” that actually raised an interested eyebrow…as it never did if you were, for example, a systems analyst.

In today’s Digital Age, not any more …

Journalists now only rank above oil rig workers, soldiers, dairy farmers and lumberjacks in the 2012 Worst Jobs list – an annual analysis of 200 professions based on salary, prospects, work environment and stress levels, published by US website CareerCast.

Who would have thought my noble profession would one day be put on a par with that of a humble timber harvester, the career choice of incontinent cross-dressers who press wild flowers for a hobby?

Sure, anyone in the newsprint business has chopped down a few trees in their time by default (and quite a lot of them used to hang around in bars); but if any of my former male colleagues liked to ‘wear high heels, suspendies and a bra’, they never shared their guilty pleasure with me!

(If you don’t know what I’m on about, have a listen to Monty Python’s famous Lumberjack Song and you will).



Broadcasting also joins the Worst Jobs list for the first time (bad luck, Jeremy Clarkson), although I take this with a large pinch of salt unless they’re talking about the ‘Hospital Radio Boondocksville’ level of broadcasting. After all, Jeremy Paxman does it and he’s no fool, while most people would give their right foot to step into one of Sir David Attenborough’s shoes (even if a tarantula might be lurking there).

But CareerCast stands by its stats, stating: “As the digital world continues to take over and provide on-demand information, the need for print newspapers and daily newscasts is diminishing. Both jobs once seemed glamorous but stress, declining job opportunities and income levels are what landed them on our Worst Jobs list.”

Meanwhile, the dull old computer boffin will be in big demand at that aforementioned cocktail party, as Software Engineers top the Best Jobs list.

According to the report, “Their pay is great, hiring demand for their skills is through the roof and working conditions have never been better.”

As for the other nine Best Jobs we should all be slitting each other’s throats to get hold of, I’ve never even heard of some of them. What, for example, is an Audiologist? Someone who studies luxury German cars, perhaps (in which case, a new career opportunity for Jeremy Clarkson)?

RIP fellow journalists, the digital age has no need for us. It seems I started this website in the nick of time!

P.S. An Audiologist ‘diagnoses and treats hearing problems by attempting to discover the range, nature and degree of hearing function’. What we journalists would simply call an ear doctor…

Here are both lists in full, with US salary.


  1. Lumberjack: $32,114.00
  2. Dairy Farmer: $33,119.00
  3. Enlisted Military Soldier: $36,261.00
  4. Oil Rig Worker: $32,132.00
  5. Reporter, newspaper: $35,275.00 6
  6. Waiter/Waitress: $18,088.00
  7. Meter Reader: $35,171.00
  8. Dishwasher: $18,044.00
  9. Butcher: $29,156.00
  10. Broadcaster: $27,324.00


  1. Software Engineer: $88,142.00
  2. Actuary: $88,202.00
  3. Audiologist: $67,137.00
  4. Human Resources Manager: $99,102.00
  5. Dental hygeinist: $68,109.00
  6. Financial Planner: $104,161.00
  7. Occupational Therapist: $72,110.00
  8. Online Advertising Manager: $87,255.00
  9. Computer Systems Analyst: $78,148.00
  10. Mathematician: $99,191.00


  • Sue Sharpe January 18, 2013 at 11:14 am Reply

    The list of best jobs looks more like the list of occupants of the ‘B’ Ark (http://www.geoffwilkins.net/fragments/Adams.htm) with the exception of the Mathematicians, obviously!
    Great post, Belinda!

  • Matthew Hirtes January 18, 2013 at 2:59 pm Reply

    Lovely infotainment piece, Belinda. That’s what journalism should be about: to inform and entertain at the same time. I know that’s not always possible, especially with stories regarding human tragedy. There are many cons to this trade but the pros outweight them. I still get a buzz when people tell me they’ve enjoyed an article of mine. For example, my children’s doctor who loved my coffee plantation story which he read on a recent visit to Dublin.

  • robin January 20, 2013 at 10:22 pm Reply

    It all seems so prosaic – programmers, HR people and Financial planners on the up and broadcasters and journalists on the way out. Depressing, but it still doesn’t make me want to be a software engineer…

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