September 1, 2014
Newspaper reporters, CapitanichSaturday, January 11, 2014
Worst job possible
For The Herald
A career web site in the United States ranked last year’s best and worst 200 jobs and concluded that the there is nothing worse you can do than being a newspaper reporter these days.
CareerCast.com produces the list (http://www.careercast.com/jobs-rated/worst-jobs-2013) based on five criteria: physical demands, work environment, income, stress, and hiring outlook. The greatest thing to be now is an actuary. Actuaries, the index explains, put a financial value on risk. With risks everywhere to be found in today’s world, “the profession is booming,” said Tony Lee, publisher of CareerCast.com. And, to make things even greater for actuaries, there is actually a shortage of them, so wages are rising.
The exact contrary seems to happen in the newspaper industry, where newsrooms have been shrinking non-stop over the last few years. “Consumers can access online news outlets almost anywhere thanks to technological advancements, which are threatening the existence of traditional print newspapers,” the study says. “As a result, the number of reporter jobs is projected to fall 6% by 2020, according to the US Bureau of Labour Statistics (BLS), while average pay is expected to continue its decline.”
CareerCast.com also looked ahead to the jobs expected to be the most stressful in 2014 based on a number of variables including deadlines, public pressure, own life at risk, physical demands and the like. Here, journalists fare a bit better and only stand eighth on the stressed list, below enlisted military personnel, military generals, firefighters, airline pilots, event coordinators, public relations executives and corporate executives. Police officers and taxi drivers are said to be less stress out than the reporter — though a taxi driver that also reads the newspapers everyday would possibly rank slightly higher.
These figures are far from implying the death of journalism, the people in charge of the study are quick to clarify. By “newspaper reporter” the survey means, literally, “newspaper reporter,” so it leaves out all other forms of journalism that even newspaper reporters do — even if only by wielding their own Twitter accounts. It is the industry rather than the trade that seems to be finding it harder to adapt to the tidal changes. The less adaptable the industry, the worse newspaper reporting will feature on the jobs lists.
In Argentina, journalists getting the boot from their jobs at every side of the political divide can give testimony to that.
Standing in no-man’s land between a public relations executive, an events organizer and a news anchor, Argentina’s Cabinet Chief is also bracing for a stress-filled 2014. Jorge Capitanich continues to stubbornly meet the press in the Casa Rosada every morning, even after his loquacity continues to crash into the wall of the government’s hermetic information policy from time to time.
After being overruled by fellow Cabinet peers on a handful of occasions and this week by the very president, Capitanich’s words have lost the clout and impact he wishes them to have. His early morning, open agenda press conferences are becoming shorter, as journalists – those witty, underpaid workers – find reasons to doubt his line is the official government line. Yesterday’s was the shortest (just over six minutes, only one question taken) since he took the job in late November.
Promising from day one that he would speak to journalists every morning and take as many questions as they wanted, Capitanich made a U-turn in the government’s political communication policy. Until then, the government had sought to keep its message under control, take no risks and only give President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner the right to innovate. Capitanich jumped without a safety net. His openness is likely to continue to cause him trouble unless he manages to centralize the government’s information as much as he seeks to centralize its public discourse – at least when the President decides to stay away from the spotlight.
The bumpy triangle of public statements this week by Capitanich, Economy Minister Axel Kicillof and AFIP tax bureau chief Ricardo Echegaray over possible amendment of property tax exposed Capitanich as lacking a grip on government affairs, a problem that no communication strategy can solve. Capitanich needs to pull the strings of the government’s communications internally before he can hope to be an effective – and daily – government spokesman and agenda-setter.
The president did not do him — and her government — a favour by sending Kicillof out to overrule her Cabinet Chief, who could only mumble a “the economy minister’s words are the President’s words” response when facing the journalists the next morning. He might not be holding the worst of the jobs possible, but he seems to be swallowing some major stress.