Some perspective on the “unhappy journalists” survey

A lot of ink got spilled this past week, reporting on a new survey from the University of Georgia on career satisfaction among journalists.

Poynter.org had the story: Some 28 percent of the journalists surveyed wish they had chosen a different career.

Some of the coverage boo-hooed and intoned that this is yet another manifestation of a profession in a tailspin.

Really? I think it’s pretty damn good that three-quarters of the people who chose to be journalists are happy with that choice.

This is a field, recall, where compensation historically has not been high: for example, the starting annual salary for a new journalism grad in 2012 was more than 10 grand lower than the median pay for all grads: According to CNN, the median annual pay last year for a new journalist was $32,000; the figure was $42,666 for all jobs.

Let’s compare those satisfaction rates in the UGa survey to those in a profession with a lot more earning power: law.

The American Bar Association did a survey in 2007 called, “The Pulse of Legal Profession.”

It was nationwide and pretty comprehensive. And note that it was completed before The Great Recession, when things really got bad.

Of lawyers in practice six to nine years, only about 40 percent were happy with their career choice.

For lawyers who had been in practice 10 years or more, the figure was higher – about six in 10.

Ponder that a minute — 40 percent of the lawyers who had been slogging away a decade or better were stuck in a job they really didn’t like.

All the sudden, the fact that three-quarters of the journalists are happy looks pretty good.

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