Platt: Not a lumberjack, and I’m OK

Apr. 18, 2014 @ 04:33 PM

Well, what a relief.

This year, the job of newspaper reporter doesn’t rank all the way at the bottom of CareerCast.com’s list of the top 200 jobs.
Instead, it’s apparently just almost the worst job, squeaking in ahead of lumberjack based on work environment, stress and hiring outlook.
The best jobs, if we’re to believe the website, include mathematician, tenured university professor, statistician and actuary. The perfect career, I guess, would be a math professor with a side job in the insurance industry.
No, thanks.
Print journalism might be a shadow of what it was even 22 years ago when I started my professional career in Florida, but I still enjoy the important work of informing the community about what’s going on. At The Herald-Sun, we remain committed to providing intensely local coverage – the sort of news you’re not liable to find on CNN.com or Huffington Post, but still important to readers here in Durham.
I don’t think the continued evolutionary shift from print to digital has to change that mission. Nor does how we deliver the news make our job – low-ranking as it might be on someone’s list – any less critical.
I perused the list and realized that, in truth, I’ve actually served in several capacities at The Herald-Sun during the past couple of years. I’ve been a reporter, an editor, an occasional photojournalist and a web developer working on our site at heraldsun.com. All those jobs show up on the list. If I take their average (remember, I’m no mathematician), my job here falls somewhere around 138 – ahead of public relations executive, sewage plant operator and air-traffic controller, but still behind such pleasant jobs as janitor, maid and dishwasher.
I guess I’ll take what I can get.
Not so long ago, I had the chance to speak to some students in an after-school program at Githens Middle School in Durham about my work as both a journalist and a computer game designer.
It should come as no surprise that most of them wanted to know more about video games than a future in newspapers.
But they did ask what important subjects they should pay special attention to in school.
My answer, which came weeks before that list was released: Math.
And I meant it. My greatest regret from my education in both high school and college is that I didn’t take math more seriously. It didn’t interest me the way that civics, history and writing did, so I took only the bare minimum. The resulting grades in those classes were predictably mediocre.
If I had it to do over again, though, I’d apply my mind to learning mathematics, which would open the door to computer programming, data-driven journalism and so much more.

Wes Platt can be reached at wplatt@heraldsun.com or 919-419-6684. Follow on Twitter at @HS_WesPlatt. Connect on Facebook at facebook.com/wesplattheraldsun.