The Professions We Love to Hate — Including Mine!

A few years ago I got a glimpse into how some people view their professions against the backdrop of public opinion. It happened at the dentist’s office, while I was having a regular checkup and cleaning.

This is something I hate passionately – going to the dentist, having them poke around in my mouth with their sharp instruments and shrill equipment. I’m hardly alone. I bet if you were to poll 1 billion people, about 1 billion people would say the same thing.

I don’t remember the specific context of what happened, but at some point during the checkup the dental technician must have asked how I was doing during said checkup, since it was taking a long time, and I was probably squirming. I must have joked that I was fine, but all in all I’d rather be lying on a warm beach.

Then I asked, “Seriously, how many people actually enjoy this?”

To which she replied: “Well, many people do enjoy going to the dentist.”

To which I thought to myself (without saying it out loud): “No, many people do not enjoy going to the dentist.”


What I remember is that there was a defensiveness in the dental technician’s tone, as if she had heard this kind of thing one too many times. I assured her that I was fine, it’s important to get your teeth cleaned, I am a passionate advocate of dentistry, I appreciate the work you do, etc.

I was also tempted to tell her that I, too, worked in a profession that a lot of people have a problem with: journalism. But then I was afraid she would stick one of those sharp instruments in my eye.

People might hate going to the dentist, but that passes as soon as they leave the dentist’s office. The hate they have for journalists, for the media, is much more primal, and lasts a lifetime. I first got introduced to this antipathy as a writer for my college newspaper, and it has smacked me in the face ever since, through 40-odd years of writing for papers, magazines, and websites.

I recently did a google search of the professions that have the worst reputations. One article I came across on MSN was titled, “The 20 Most Hated Professions in the World.” After looking it over, I decided it sounded pretty accurate. Here’s the list, in order:




Journalists (told ya)


Real estate agents

Construction workers


Dentists (told ya)


Insurance brokers


Car mechanics

Parking enforcement officers

School principals






Now, I think some of these are a little unfair. Construction workers are on the list because of the noise and traffic headaches their projects create, and maybe because mass development contributes to a long list of environmental problems. But that’s not the workers’ fault. They’re just trying to earn a living (even though, yeah, I really detest the noise).

Accountants? Geez, what’s wrong with accountants?

School principals? School principals?

Paparazzi? Okay, they suck. 

You can decide on the rest.

I’m not sure what it says about me, but in my long and sometimes checkered career I have worked several of the jobs on that list: telemarketer, construction worker, accountant, banker, salesperson.

And journalist. Mostly that. More than 90% journalist/writer/editor.


Do I understand why so much of the world hates journalists, the media? Of course I do.

The media too often presents only one side of a story and tries to pass it off as the whole story. They too often get the facts wrong, the context wrong, the quotes wrong. They too often push a specific agenda and then cherry-pick the data to support that agenda, thus giving media consumers a biased and dishonest account of what really happened. This has become a bigger problem with the rise of media outlets whose main purpose has less to do with actual journalism than partisan politics (see: anything owned by Rupert Murdoch).

Too much of modern media is more rooted in entertainment than journalism. They go for the big headline, the juicy angle, sensationalism over truth, clicks and page views over facts and accuracy.

But that only tells part of the story, and it’s really the smallest part.

First off, the “media” comes in many different forms. It ranges from small community newspapers with no digital presence to multibillion-dollar corporations with numerous holdings beyond media outlets.

There are dozens and dozens of little niches within the industry – media outlets devoted to personal finance, sports, nature, science, the green economy, politics, taxes, entertainment, government, education, investigative journalism, social justice, community reporting, corporate finance, homemaking, cars, computers, etc.

You simply can’t lump it all together into one giant, amorphous monster called the “media.” Nor can you make sweeping generalizations about what motivates journalists, or what their mission is. One of the main generalizations is that journalists have a specific agenda that leads to inaccurate or incomplete reporting. That has not been my experience.

In all the decades I worked in journalism, around hundreds of reporters and editors, the vast majority I’ve known really are interested in getting the facts and story right. They are committed to accuracy – and often obsessed with it. This is partly because they want to do a good job and earn their paychecks (and not get fired). It’s also partly because they know there will be hell to pay when they screw up.

There is no more lonely feeling in the world than having your byline on a story that gets things badly wrong. Those errors are out there for all the world to see – and you’re the schmuck whose name is attached to them. You not only feel horrible (and guilty, and depressed) for failing at your job. You can also look forward to a dressing down from your editors and managers, and a barrage of angry phone calls/emails/social medial comments from the public at large.

If it’s a particularly egregious error, you might face a lawsuit from the injured parties. On top of all that, you have to be part of the very public process of issuing a correction and an apology. That is a special form of humiliation, but one that nearly every journalist I have ever known (including myself) is willing to accept and be held accountable for. You really have no choice but to swallow your medicine like an adult.

This stuff is no fun (I know, believe me). When it happens once – and for many journalists, it will – you make damn sure it never happens again. You triple- and quadruple-check all your sources, research, data, etc. When you file the story to your editor you’re paranoid about what you might have missed or gotten wrong. The paranoia remains even after the story is published.

Journalists will always make little mistakes – a misspelled name, an overlooked angle, a wrong date – but most do everything in their power to avoid the Big Mistakes.


I would also argue that most journalists really want to present a balanced view, inasmuch as a balanced view is possible. Not all stories can (or should) be balanced. If the mayor of your fair city embezzles a couple million dollars from the municipal fund to pay for his vacation home in the Antilles, there’s only one way to report it: He’s a corrupt shitheel, and the public got screwed.

Of course, he’ll claim that the reporting was “unbalanced” all the way to his jail cell. And some morons will agree with him….

If you think journalists get the story wrong most of the time, think about this: How often are media outlets successfully sued for egregious factual errors, libel, defamation, etc.? The answer is: not often.

There might be a lot of suits filed. But not a lot are successful – despite the fact that thousands of news articles are published every day around the world. You can hardly find any information online about the frequency of successful defamation and libel suits against the media – which is telling.

When it does happen, it’s big news – like when Fox News recently had to pay $787.5 million to U.S. voting machine company Dominion for spreading false claims that its machines helped rig the 2020 election in President Joe Biden’s favor. (A lie that some dipsticks still believe, despite all evidence to the contrary).

The Fox News episode demonstrates just how reckless and dishonest the media can be when it sets its mind to it. I’m happy they were punished for it. But it’s the exception that proves the rule. It got so much attention because this kind of thing is rare.

Here’s one thing people would do well to keep in mind: Journalists – the good ones, the dedicated ones – represent the last defense against tyranny, and there’s a lot of that going around these days. Just ask people living in the growing list of countries where the free and open press has either been censored or shut down altogether.


Another generalization about the media is that it focuses exclusively on the negative and sensational – war, murder, political clashes, social unrest, scandal, disease, celebrity divorce, societal breakdown, the end of the world. That’s not true, though it sure does seem that way because negative headlines get the most prominent placement.

Do you know why that is? Because media consumers gravitate toward bad news like moths to a flame.

Like any industry, the media is all about supply and demand. If readers and viewers demand more good news – which they often claim – the media will supply it. The problem is, one article about a mass shooting will probably get 40 times more interest than a hundred articles about high school students raising money for hurricane victims. This has been proven over and over by data and research.

One of the websites I write for, The Business Download, focuses on positive trends in the areas of sustainability and the green economy. I don’t do much original reporting for the site – it mostly involves aggregating information from other places. But the articles do provide readers with short snapshots of good work that is being done to improve society and the planet.

So if you are looking for some good news, hit the links below.

And remember: The dentist is there to help. But not the paparazzi….

A UN-backed Initiative Aims To Improve Food Sustainability

Goodr Prevents Waste While Tackling Food Insecurity

‘Waterproof’ Rice Emerges As A Waste Solution In Flood Areas

Startup Uses Microbes To Turn Black Gold Into Green Energy

Firm Uses Kite Tech To Help Ships Navigate Seas, Save Fuel

Aro Homes Wants To Give Houses An Environmental Makeover

Note: The image is from an actual item you can buy off of Amazon, so I don’t think they’ll mind me using it as long as I provide this link for potential customers.


  1. Thank you for this, Vance. As a self-professing news hater, you’ve given me another perspective…and also more compassion for those who work in the field. (Well, the well-meaning ‘good’ ones, at least 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks Yacoob. You have a lot of company on the news-hater front. 🙂 I guess if I have one message to share about it, it’s that journalists come in all different shades and sizes like any other occupation. Most want to do a good job, but that job is not always cheery or peppy.

      Anyway, today it’s possible to customize the news and information people get, so if all they want to know are the stock prices or soccer scores, they can just get that and ignore everything else. I’m pretty old-school in terms of getting my news from traditional papers (though online), but I mainly glance at the headlines and read what interests me.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I actually have a habit of skimming most of the articles, and paying attention only to the direct quotes. The headline tells me what the piece is about, but most times, I already have background knowledge and just want the meat of it…not the journo’s commentary and explanations 🙂

        If it’s a field I don’t know – like finance – then more attention is necessary for the rest.

        Liked by 1 person

    2. That seems like a perfectly reasonable way to do it. I’m glad you do take the time to stay informed. We will make a news lover out of you yet! (ha ha) Actually, not even I am a news lover anymore. More of a news tolerater.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Vance, it is indeed unfortunate the 50,000 foot-view reputation of journalism has been hijacked and poisoned. A broad brush is being used to paint all journalists, but to your point there are still many in the field who are trying their best to be the best version of what writing and reporting can be. You noted the Fox payout to settle the suit with Dominion stands out because it is such a egregious, determined effort to spread complete falsehoods. The problem is, many people haven’t trusted the media for awhile now and this situation re-shines a light on the common-sense fact the media determines what they think as news (which they always have), but they also have the ability to shape and mold that news. As perplexing as it might seem, it is like a lot of folks didn’t already know that until recently. They are now questioning anything and everything they read, hear, or see with so much distain and distrust. Social media has been anything but “social,” and that hasn’t helped matters. I like your good news links here. Interesting stuff going on which we otherwise wouldn’t know of. These stories deserve a place at the front of the line!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Bruce, thanks for the insightful comments. For sure, there is not much trust in the media, and the media doesn’t do itself any favors by constantly shooting itself in the foot. But it’s fine to have a healthy dose of skepticism about what you read and hear. My suggestion to those who ask is to get their news from a variety of outlets, and eventually they’ll sniff out the real story.

      The “rigged election” thing is a prime example. If all people did was watch Fox News, they’d be convinced it was real (and a lot of people do just watch it exclusively). But if they had bothered widening their field of vision, they’d have seen that just about every other legit media outlet disproved the rigged election theory almost immediately, including conservative-leaning outlets like the Wall Street Journal.

      Some people just want to hear what they want to hear — and that’s the scary part. When they stop caring about the truth, then society is in big trouble. Anyway, I think on the whole the media as an industry gets things right more than people want to admit.

      Liked by 1 person

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