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The Jefferson Journal is JPR's members' magazine featuring articles, columns, and reviews about living in Southern Oregon and Northern California, as well as articles from NPR. The magazine also includes program listings for JPR's network of stations.

The Best Worst Jobs I Ever Had

I spent my first week at JPR in a state of elation: my love for public radio had turned into a full-time job as producer of the Jefferson Exchange.

Settling into the newsroom and surrounded by welcoming colleagues, I logged on to social media to brag, just a little bit, about my rad new gig.

Then a headline appeared, seemingly poised to deflate my delight. It read: Best and Worst Jobs in America for 2015.

The story has been pinned, posted and tweeted all over social media, links leading to articles published by big guns like CNN, NBC, CBS, Time, Forbes and many others.

The big news?

I have one of “the worst jobs in America for 2015,” a dubious distinction extended to all broadcasters by CareerCast’s Jobs Rated Report. This annual analysis, now in its 27th year, ranks 200 common careers from best to worst using metrics like growth, how much money you make, how stressful your day is, how competitive the field is, and how likely you are to die or be injured in a work-related accident.

The rankings broke the day I started at JPR, and not long after I had packed up my life in Crescent City, leaving behind good friends and lonesome, perfect beaches to pursue a career change.

But hey, I wasn’t even bummed to learn that this exciting foray into radio news ranked 196th out of 200. By the Jobs Rated Report’s much-repeated count, 

I was actually stepping up in the world: the career prospects of broadcasters are beaten in bleakness only by those of a lumberjack, enlisted military personnel and...a newspaper reporter.

Just a few months ago I was a reporter for a very print-centric community paper, the very “worst job in America for 2015.” It’s among the few, the proud vocations that are “even worse than taxi driver,” according to the folks at CareerCast.

Truly, working at newspapers since 2009 has been a rough ride. I’ve experienced sudden pay cuts and lay offs. I’ve marveled and cringed as the pages literally shrunk by two inches, part of an effort to cut costs in every corner.

I’ve also seen the difference rural journalism can make, how stories that would otherwise have gone untold can celebrate the good and change the bad.

It’s been humbling and life altering to learn from some amazing editors and fellow reporters, people who continue to be underpaid, overworked and totally in love with their jobs.

Transitioning to public radio, I’m still surrounded by hardworking local newspaper reporters. I regularly check up on more than a dozen rags, just to keep up with what’s happening in JPR’s vast listening area.

So, thank you newspaper journalists! I know you work nights for peanuts and deal with open contempt on a near daily basis. But remember, we’d be lost, and lose something really important, without you.

Just for the record, what is “best job in America for 2015”?

Being an actuary, according to CareerCast.com.

The details of what an actuary actually does are pretty dim for me and I’m sure it’s a fine profession, but really, have you ever met a kid who dreams of being an actuary when they grow up?

It turns out the intent of the Jobs Rated Report, with its conclusions echoed by scores of media outlets and blogs every year, is to change the answer to that question. They hope teachers will use the report to sculpt the ambitions of their pupils, who most certainly do not dream of being actuaries.

“What motivates us to tackle this immense project every year?” writes Tony Lee of CareerCast, “... To help high school and middle school kids turn their career dreams into the most realistic path possible, and to help those in a mid-career transition make a smart choice about their future.”

For now, I’m really grateful nobody influential in my life ever turned me down the “most realistic path possible.”

Instead I’m in a newsroom, doing what I love.

Emily Cureton is the producer and engineer of the Jefferson Exchange, heard on JPR’s News & Information Service weekdays, and online at ijpr.org.