Why lumberjack did better than newspaper reporter in the jobs survey

I called CareerCast.com publisher Tony Lee and told him I thought it was brilliant that he put newspaper reporter dead-last in his Best/Worst job list for 2013. The 200 out of 200 ranking guarantees that nearly every journalist will tweet, blog or Facebook the survey and send huge traffic to CareerCast.com.

“What if I swore to God that’s not the case, because it’s not,” Lee said when I suggested he might have played with the rankings to get more publicity. “The data is the data. We didn’t manipulate it in any way. I can walk you through why newspaper reporter ended up at the bottom. …We take a very analytical approach. We try to remove all subjectivity.”

Lee tells me he thought the reporter job would do better than lumberjack in this year’s survey, but “the hiring outlook for lumberjacks improved. The mills started calling back laid-off workers.”

He adds: “There are very few jobs on our list that project negative growth or falling income” and the newspaper reporter position has both.

“We’re very literal” with the titles, notes the publisher. “When we say newspaper reporter we mean newspaper reporter; we do not mean a reporter who works for, say, espn.com” or any other digital job.

Lee tells me that his website’s traffic is up 10-fold since the 2013 jobs survey was first published in the Wall Street Journal on Monday. (The Journal always gets it exclusively.)

“In past years, the coverage has been spread out over weeks, but this year it seems like it all came within 24 hours” because of social media, says Lee. “We’ve been covered by all the major media. Once the Journal broke it, everybody jumped on the bandwagon.”

I asked if there’s a chance he’ll expand the list to 225 or 250 so the newspaper reporter position can go even lower.

“No,” he says, “we’ll keep it at 200.”

* Ranking 200 jobs from best to worst (careercast.com)
* The worst jobs of 2013: No. 1 is newspaper reporter (careercast.com)