The list of the 200 best and worst jobs published last week by CareerCast.com hit home for me since my job, newspaper reporter, was lowest on the list at number 200. Photojournalist, another of my jobs, wasn’t much higher at 188.
This list of the best and worst apparently fails to take into account that the work environment in a reporter’s job is always changing and physical demands are worth taking to get the story.
In the last 30 years, I have been a reporter and a photographer for small weeklies and big dailies. In truth, I haven’t made a lot of money. The pay has been in the experience.
I have written about and photographed everyone from the president to the local dog catcher, and heard some amazing life stories from everyone in between.
I’ve looked into the mouth of one of the largest active volcanoes in the world.
I’ve leaned out on a tether from the open back of a C-130 as it flew over an iceberg on ice patrol with the Coast Guard in the North Atlantic.
I’ve piloted a blimp and done teardrops at 400 mph in a high performance airplane with a former SR-71 pilot. I’ve met Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin, the first men to walk on the moon, along with sound barrier-breaking pilots Chuck Yeager and Scott Crossfield. I’ve done aerobatics in the skies over the world’s biggest Marine Corps air base. I’ve driven a historic old fishing boat over inlet breakers, caught a 374-pound blue fin tuna. I’ve jumped into thin air on a bungee cord, photographed surfers in the tube with a water camera, and been scuba diving on a shipwreck offshore in the Graveyard of the Atlantic. I spent nearly every day for a month up close watching the move of the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse.
Of course, the bad has to be mixed with the good.
I’ve seen a hurricane punch holes in the Outer Banks and seen whole houses lifted by tornadoes.
I’ve had the hair stand up on the back of my neck several times when having to cover the recovery of a drowning victim, or upon seeing bloodied occupants pried out of mangled automobiles at a wreck scene, or at a funeral for a Marine.
It hasn’t all been easy.
Reporters have to earn their credibility in the eyes of the public every single day.
Reporters occasionally make honest mistakes, as I did recently and had to correct myself for misidentifying a cormorant as a grebe.
Reporters and photographers never know how the day will end, as was the case last week.
It was just after noon when the fire alarm went off. A few minutes later, I was standing in a yard with a home fully ablaze when the Havelock Fire and Rescue Department pulled 2-year-old Dylan Burkett from the inferno, saving the boy’s life.
Again, the hair stood up on the back of my neck and I, like those others who witnessed it, had a hard time fighting back tears of joy over what we’d just seen.
That night, before bed, I paused to thank God that the day was one of a life saved instead of a life lost.
And once again, I thanked God for giving me the honor and privilege of being a reporter.
Drew C. Wilson is a reporter/photographer with the Havelock News. He can be reached at 444-1999 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.