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May 14, 2013

BEAM: The problem being Lois Lane

While cutting random shapes that could have been mistaken for kidneys out of construction paper the other day, my 6-year-old daughter Samira glanced up and asked me what I want to be when I grow up. 

Good, yet worrisome, question. For one, obviously the kid has no idea what I do, which is somewhat disheartening. Everyone in their whole school knows that her father — my husband — stops the bad guys. He has the badge to prove it. 

So, the students flock to him as if he is a modern day Elliot Ness or a Fox Mulder, while I stand back, a Lois Lane in the shadow of her Superman. Instead of placing cute notes in her school lunch, maybe I just need to send in heart-shaped clippings of my articles from the newspaper instead.

Add this to another reason why CareerCast.com ranks newspaper reporter as the worst job of 2013. Journalists just aren’t loved anymore. Even being a lumberjack, arguably one of the most dangerous professions, scored higher. While the pen may be mightier than the sword, it seems that a wooden ax crushes them both.

Now, I’m not saying the field of journalism doesn’t deserve some of this backlash. There are few Walter Cronkites and Ernie Pyles reporting from the trenches today. Just ask former Congressman Lee Hamilton. I was able to interview Hamilton a few weeks back and he even said media today has become driven by extremes. 

Pundits have replaced good old-fashioned journalists in many areas. Everyone has an opinion, most of them being of the controversial variety. And argumentative pieces seem to sell better than straight news or features, especially in today’s fractionalized market. 

Bigger yet, recently some reporters have just been getting stories plain wrong. Look at the Boston Marathon bombings. Inaccurate news stories were released left and right. Being first and fast overruled being factual. Blame this on the new age of social media, if you will. But regardless, each erroneous claim butchered not only the truth, but the reputations of all journalists. 

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