By Jason Stverak
The Discovery Channel may never have featured print journalism on its hit series Dirty Jobs, but according to data compiled by CareerCast.com, newspaper reporters have the “worst” job in America, beating out garbage collectors, meter readers, dock workers, and even dishwashers. In terms of demands, stress, salary, and job security, journalists have it tougher than just about everyone else in the civilian workforce–yet their work remains vitally important to keeping our country on track.
Reporting isn’t nearly as sexy as TV makes it out to be, and given the steep decline of the print industry over the past quarter century, talented writers and investigators can hardly be blamed if they forgo journalism for fields that promise more money or excitement. Yet those who have remained in our industry are answering to a higher calling than fame and fortune–the need to report the truth and inform the citizenry.
Investigative reporting isn’t a job for the faint of heart–it involves long hours, aggressive questioning, a streak of defiance, and the willingness to follow up on leads and keep digging long after others have given up. And there’s the ever-present threat of lawsuits driven by powerful, well-connected people who resent press intrusion. When Watchdog.org dug deep into Gov.-elect Terry McAuliffe’s resume, one of his companies sued us for $85 million. Seven months later, that case is still pending in a federal court.
In some respects, it’s of little surprise that few young writers want to do hard investigative work anymore. But there’s honor in doing the work no one else will, and great investigative reporters, although they don’t wear a uniform, serve our country and uphold our freedoms by reining in and exposing the abuses of those in power.
Our Watchdog reporters know the perceived drawbacks of the field they’ve gotten into, and not one of them would have it any other way. Like all other public servants, they’re committed to upholding the principles of our free society–one investigation at a time.