The Free Press, Mankato, MN

May 12, 2013

Krohn column: Take this job and love it

The Mankato Free Press

---- — If I had to do it all over again — and was smarter, more ambitious, more disciplined, and good at math — I would have been an actuary.

It was listed as the best job in America for 2013, according to an annual survey by a job placement firm.

Instead, I chose to be a newspaper reporter. Reporter, by the way, was ranked dead last, No.200 — the worst job in the country.

The ranking is based on categories such as pay, work conditions, hiring outlook and stress.

Actuaries are Wall Street’s version of Las Vegas oddsmakers, assessing risks and rewards of buying certain hedge funds, or calculating how much an insurance company will likely pay out in claims next year for drivers in southern Minnesota.

They earn boatloads of money, have lots of job offers and work in really nice offices with walnut furniture and free Starbucks coffee.

The survey rated reporters’ stress levels as off the chart and the pay poor. Reporters’ hiring outlook ranking was actually in negative numbers. Come on, who wouldn’t be eager to hire cynical, slothful, know-it-alls who resent authority?

Geologists, orthodontists, computer programmers, skin-care specialists and social workers were all in the top quarter of the best jobs.

People who do nuclear decontamination were ranked 135 places higher than reporters. Tax collectors were 115 rungs higher.

We ink-stained wretches were outranked by garbage collectors, carpet installers, people who work on ships, roofers, soldiers, dairy farmers, oil rig workers and lumberjacks.

Still, being a reporter is way better than my first summer job at the old Carney Insulation factory on Carney Avenue. They took Fiberglass, melted it into thread-like strands and turned it into rolls of batt insulation.

I’d stand in front of a covered conveyor at the end of the operation. The lid would pop open with a blast of scorching air that sent probable carcinogenic particles of Fiberglass shards floating through the air. My job was to dig out balls of molten Fiberglass that hadn’t turned into strands and then toss the batt onto another conveyor.

It makes covering a two-hour county ditch assessment hearing seem like a dream job.

The newspaper industry has been through well-documented challenges. But after 30 years of doing this, it’s still a heck of a good job. You get paid to go out and talk with interesting people — the smart and talented ones and the clueless and crazy ones — documenting the living history of the area. Readers, for the most part, appreciate it.

So, enjoy your Starbucks and walnut furniture actuaries. I’ll take my Folgers and Formica desk.

Besides, if things don’t work out here, I’ve got a bright future in insulation.

Tim Krohn is a Free Press staff writer. He can be contacted at 344-6383 or