Journalists deserve more public recognition

Newspaper journalists have the worst job in the world. A Jobs Rated report analyzed the emotional and physical aspects of work environments, hours, income (including growth potential and average salary), outlook and a series of stress factors to determine newspaper journalists have it worse than pest control workers, dishwashers and taxi drivers.

Color me unsurprised. In the four years I’ve written, edited and designed for The Flor-Ala, I’ve watched myself and my peers clock 40 hours a week, receiving approximately $3.50 – $5.42 an hour in addition to being full-time students with other part-time jobs.

I’ve listened every semester as students stress over whether they should finish their newspaper assignments or their coursework. I’ve walked into the office to see staff asleep under their desks, hoping for at least a one-hour nap after pulling an all-nighter. I’ve witnessed the emotional breakdowns and the feelings of constantly letting the campus down while trying to do what seems right. And yes, I’ve experienced all of these emotions firsthand.

I’ve attended countless meetings addressing the community, the campus and the student body, and only twice have I ever heard The Flor-Ala publicly recognized. The first, Dec. 14, 2015, Pro-tempore of the board of trustees Marty Abroms thanked us for attending. The second, in Student Government Association President Sarah Green’s Inaugural Address April 22, she motioned at Associate News Editor Kaitlyn Davis and I, saying we keep her on her toes.

For my staff, both outgoing and incoming, I have to tell you to get used to a lack of acknowledgment. This is the most thankless job I have ever worked. It has taught me life lessons, including how to communicate with people of various personality types. It’s also taught me I don’t want to stay in this business. And without my staff this year, I wouldn’t have.

Few people know that this time last year I told myself I was done with The Flor-Ala. I didn’t have the backbone for it, and crippling anxiety and depression told me I wasn’t any good at it, anyway. But I saw the staff who was coming in, excited and eager to learn. And I realized this wasn’t a choice for me, but a calling, and I don’t regret a day of it.

It has been stressful. It has been rigorous. It has been taxing. But it has been with the best staff I have ever worked with. This is the first and last editorial I will write addressing not the community at large, but the journalism community: You do amazing work. You are never told that. You are only told what you do wrong. You are only told you’re corrupting this world. You are only told you are ignorant, petty, useless muckrakers and all-around terrible at your job.

I’m here to tell you that’s not true. You’re award winners. You’re students. You’re spouses. You’re daughters and sons and most of all, you’re public servants. You matter. For all of us, this is just the beginning of a long, gravelly and winding road into adulthood.

And to the 2016-2017 staff, I look forward to watching you on your journey. I hope to stick with you all as your stories develop.