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.
FYI — butchers also fare better than journalists on the 2013 job rankings. At least they’re getting their hands bloodied the traditional way.
But I digress. Back to my daughter’s innocent question; what do I want to be when I grow up?
Despite all the bad press, if you will, I still want to be a journalist. I don’t just want to cover any old story, but those with some fundamental truths that transcend race or gender or even nations. One of these days, I hope to travel the world and visit refugee camps and war zones and cover those people who feel forgotten.
Of course, quite a few of these stories exist in America. Drugs. Hunger. Abuse. Sickness. Tragedy. Many feel lost and neglected. Although amazingly enough even in the most tragic of circumstances you can always find happiness and, dare I say it, hope.
Who wouldn’t want to tell those tales?
In reality, those dreams might not be the most reachable at present with three young kids at home. How much do you sacrifice for your goals? And is it bad to want more than the good life you already have?
That’s something many a mom has asked and a question that I’m not certain of the answer.
Until I do figure it all out, at least I still have one job my kids and their classmates recognize, albeit sometimes too much. For now, in their eyes, I’ll remain Samira’s mom.
Lois Lane can have her Superman. Everyone knows that with a group of kindergartners, amazing stories are only a single bound away.
— Amanda Beam is a Floyd County resident and Jeffersonville native. Contact her by email at hoosiermandyblog@ gmail.com