May 15, 2012

Is journalist the best or the worst job?

Would you rather be a newspaper reporter or to be a taxi driver? What about a meter reader? Dishwasher? 

According to rankings produced by, all of these jobs are better than being working in the newspaper biz. In fact, ranked at 196 out of 200, the only careers that newspaper reporter edges out are oil rig worker, enlisted military soldier(!), dairy farmer and lumberjack. Apparently this is a function of long hours, shit pay and stressful deadlines. But something seems off here...

Luckily for us, the good people at let us know why being a reporter is in fact totally awesome.

Remember how great college was? Every semester brought new topics, new professors, new ideas. Your brain got a workout. You could feel yourself getting smarter. Journalism is like that. You’re always building new mental muscles. You start out on a new beat or a new story as ignorant as a child, and within a few weeks or months you’re an expert. Wait, you didn’t like college? Don’t be a journalist. Problem solved.
Here are a few things I’ve done at FORBES in the name of journalism: gotten a lesson in Texas Hold ‘Em from a former pro poker player; watched a cartoonist for The New Yorker sketch comic ideas; gone jogging on the turf at Lambeau Field with the president of the Green Bay Packers; started a boycott against Mario Batali; got the creators of Words With Friends to explain why their game is so annoying. I’m sure waiters meet a lot of interesting people, too, but if they ask a lot of obnoxious questions they risk getting stiffed on the tip. I get a raise.
Tracking down a scoop on deadline, when the newsroom is buzzing with dozens of people doing the same — it’s an adrenaline rush. Plenty of jobs in this world offer the prospect of unrelieved boredom. I’d rather have one that gets my heart pumping. 
Reporting is rife with chances to get up from your desk, get out of the office and stretch your legs. Don’t like staring at a glowing screen all day? Meet a few sources for coffee, do some man-on-the-street interviews or go cover a trade show. It’s often when you’re playing semi-hooky from the office that you’ll get your best stuff. 

Yup. Journalism is pretty great.

(Photo Courtesy of Geoff Lister/The Ubyssey)

May 14, 2012

Should journalists report on eating disorders the way they report suicides?

The Ryerson Review of Journalism looks at the ethics of reporting on eating disorders. Some of the highlights:

 “There are standards when it comes to reporting on suicide, but when it comes to eating disorders we’re still blaming the victim.”

 “To me, it’s like providing suicide tools for someone who is suicidal when you report about someone’s diet. You’re not reporting on how someone committed suicide because you don’t want to give anyone who may be in that framework any more ideas; you should be doing the same thing with eating disorders.”

For example, when writing a story about an eating disorder that includes details about that individual’s calorie consumption, how much weight she lost, and what she did in order to lose that much weight, journalists must also describe the effects that lifestyle had on her physical, mental, and emotional health; what it did to the people around her; why this person behaved the way she did; and how eating disorders develop and their long-term effects. The same rules should be followed when reporting on any health issue that can or used to be stigmatized like suicide, schizophrenia, depression, or cancer.