Press Talk: Come on, man! Plus other stuff

By Lou Brancaccio, Columbian Editor



When I got into this crazy business, I remember noting that my salary as a reporter was below the poverty line.

“So what!” I thought back then.

I had been inspired by Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein and Watergate, and I just loved the idea of holding those in power accountable.

And it’s always been established that one won’t get rich in this business.

Still, I was a little surprised, when Careercast came out with a list of the best — and worst — 200 jobs. It looked at work environment, physical demands, job outlook, income levels and stress.

How did reporters fare? Not so well. Out of 200 jobs looked at, reporters ranked 196th. That means virtually every job out there is better than a reporter’s job. Really?

As in “Really? Maids, taxi drivers and dishwashers ranked ahead of reporters?”

No question, market conditions — particularly with advertising sales — and the shifting information landscape have created a large challenge for us.

I guess I’d feel real sorry for us, except there were a few jobs below us. Who’s dead last?


Our newsroom — a great bunch of educated, dedicated staffers — had a little fun with all of this. One reporter wryly noted of lumberjacks:

“Those guys are probably cutting trees down so we can make newspapers. They need us!”

You know, the public could help a little here by supporting your local newspaper and supporting those businesses who advertise with us.

Come on, man!

Call 911 for records help

It took us way too long recently to get a recording of a 911 call, something we should have received almost immediately.

Why did it take so long?

Well, at the risk of generalizing, bureaucrats often have things backwards.

Here’s the way it should work when it comes to the public getting public records:

A record is assumed to be public unless one can support why it should not be.

And here’s the way it usually works:

A record is assumed to be private unless someone beats me senseless with attorneys and supporting data.

Come on, man!

I vote for equal applause

Wanted to share an observation I made at the editors conference I attended last week.

We heard — at back-to-back luncheons — President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney.

After Obama spoke, I was moved enough to give him a standing ovation, as did everyone else at the lunch. I knew I’d be seeing Romney the next day at lunch and I immediately decided — to be fair — I’d do the same for him.

Romney’s speech was very good, but it didn’t move me like Obama’s did. Still, I stood and applauded out of fairness and respect. But unlike the day before, when everyone stood, it was just me and one other guy.

It should be noted that folks other than editors were invited to these luncheons. There was another separate conference at the hotel that included newspaper publishers, advertisers and circulation people. Pretty much, they’re considered a conservative lot.

So for Romney not to get a standing O was a little unbecoming.

Come on, man!

Lou Brancaccio is The Columbian’s editor. Reach him at 360-735-4505, or