Monday, June 27, 2022
June 27, 2022

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From the Newsroom: Journalists still like their jobs

By , Columbian Editor
Published:
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It’s been said for a few years now that news reporter is one of the worst jobs in America. News reporters can expect low pay, weird hours, constant pressure, public criticism and the constant threat of getting laid off as media outlets cut back.

So I was surprised to read a new study by the Pew Research Center that finds 77 percent of journalists would pursue the same career, if they had the chance to start over. Likewise, 75 percent said they are extremely or very proud of their work, and 70 percent are very or somewhat satisfied with their jobs. (The survey included not only newspaper journalists, but TV, radio and online journalists.)

I admit that when I filled out my survey a couple of months ago, those were the answers I picked. But it’s also fair to assume I have a different perspective as a senior editor, with only a few years left to work, than reporters who are toward the beginning of their careers.

As a cheerleader for the news industry and a free press, I was heartened by these results. But it’s not all good news.

“The effects of the job on journalists’ emotional well-being are more mixed,” according to Pew. The survey found 49 percent said their job had a positive impact on their emotional well-being, but a third said their work had a negative impact. The remaining 17 percent gave a neutral answer.

As part of the survey, the journalists were also asked to provide one word that best described the current state of their industry. Not surprising, 72 percent offered negative words, while only 9 percent used positive words like “important.” Another 17 percent offered neutral words such as “changing,” “competitive,” or “busy.”

Among the negative words, synonyms for chaos and struggle, including “dying” and “declining,” were most often used. Some used negative words such “biased” or “partisan,” and another common choice were words like “stressful” and “difficult.”

My takeaway is that we all know our industry remains in transition, but if we can figure out a business model, we have a dedicated staff who will work hard to bring you the news.

Editorial board news

If you read our editorial page, and I hope you do, you’ve seen the box that explains editorials reflect the consensus opinion of The Columbian’s Editorial Board. That board has consisted of three of the Campbell family owners of the business, including Publisher Ben Campbell, plus me and Editorial Page Editor Greg Jayne.

Greg writes most of the editorials, and I edit them, but board members offer feedback and suggest ideas. During the upcoming election season, the board will invite candidates in major races to meet with us, and we’ll issue a series of candidate endorsements.

To help us with this process, and to recognize some amazing talent in our newsroom, we’ve added Colleen Keller to the editorial board. Colleen has for many years been our assistant news editor, where a typical day for her involves editing copy, writing headlines and choosing wire stories for publication. For several years, she’s also contributed editorials, particularly when Greg is on vacation. In each of the past two years, she’s won first-place awards for editorial writing and commentary in the Society of Professional Journalists’ five-state regional contest.

She brings to the board the perspective of someone who was born and raised in Clark County and has deep ties here, but also of someone who has lived in other places. And if I am not mistaken, she will be the only member of the editorial board who has raised cattle.

She’ll keep her current job as a member of the newsroom and copy desk management teams. If Pew surveys journalists again next year, she’ll probably be one of the people who describes her job as “busy.”

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