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Positive, more favorable news is coming soon

There’s a small slip of paper taped to the top of my desk at work. I’m not entirely sure who stuck it there, or exactly when, but it’s been there for a while, long before my tenure in this building began.

The once white-colored paper now has a slight tinge of yellow to it, and the text, printed in a sans serif font, has faded so that some of the letters are barely visible.

You can still read what it says though: “What I do is called ‘fishing.’ If it was easy, we would refer to it as ‘catching,’ and there would be a lot more people doing it.”

The quote is attributed to Linda Greenlaw, an author and self-described “fisherman,” even though she’s actually a woman. She claims to be America’s only female swordfishing captain, and I’ll have to believe her. Who am I to say otherwise?

I like her quote, even though I don’t fish much — and when I do, I don’t catch much either.

I’ve thought of printing out other words that I could tape to my desk, covering parts of Linda’s quote to make it my own. Sure, I could type it up and print out a whole new piece of paper with a brand-new quote, but that’s a far too efficient use of my time here at the office.

So, for example, to highlight the important work we do here at The Mining Journal, I might print something like: public / journalism / we / relations.

I’d cut those out, tape them to my desk and you’d get: “What we do is called ‘journalism.’ If it was easy, we would refer to it as ‘public relations,’ and there would be a lot more people doing it.”

Truth is, there actually are more people in public relations than in journalism these days — about one journalist for every six PR specialists.

Twenty years ago, it was around one journalist for every two PR specialists, according to a Bloomberg.com story that cited U.S. Census data.

And that trend is projected to continue.

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics, or BLS, said there were 270,000 PR jobs in 2018, and those are projected to grow by about 17,300 positions in the next decade or so.

Meanwhile, there were 49,700 positions last year classified as reporters, correspondents and broadcast news analysts. That job outlook isn’t so rosy: a loss of about 5,100 jobs through 2028.

Here’s another tidbit for you: A 2014 story published by the Pew Research Center found that there’s a notable pay gap between PR specialists and reporters, but I’m sure that’s hardly news to you.

In 2004, a reporter made 71 cents for every $1 brought in by a PR specialist, the story stated. By 2013, that gap had widened to 65 cents for every $1.

Going back to the BLS data, last year’s median annual pay for a journalist was $43,490 while a PR specialist took in $60,000. That equates to about 72.5 cents for every PR dollar. That’s higher than the 2013 figure, so maybe there’s a little ebb and flow to that pay gap — or maybe in the past few years, the lower paid, likely younger reporters left the field (I know a few of them myself) leaving a smaller data set.

PR and journalism are similar jobs — many of my J-school classes were taken by PR majors, too — but they have different objectives.

The BLS website lists brief job descriptions for each:

≤ Journalist: “Reporters, correspondents, and broadcast news analysts inform the public about news and events.”

≤ PR Specialist: “Public relations specialists create and maintain a favorable public image for the organization they represent.”

There are definitely challenges the news industry faces, like declining ad revenue and lost subscribers and public interest. And sure, we could just write that off as the reason behind the lower pay and dropping employment figures, but I’m not a media industry expert.

My question to you is what principles do we as a society value? The creation and maintenance of favorable public images, or the truth?

I’ll give you a few minutes to ponder that while I’ll check my social media feeds to see what shenanigans the Kardashian girls are getting into.

In all these discouraging forecasts for journalism, I found a few bright spots, one being our society’s insatiable appetite for positive, well spun news.

A few “news” clippings for you: Our country is in complete sync, marching to the same political beat, a rhythm that hasn’t been matched since the Revolutionary War. Racism is dead. Poverty is just a mindset that anyone with a little determination and some hard work can overcome. Equal pay for equal work has been achieved — slackers (women and minorities) deserve to be paid less, experts say. Our climate issues will clear themselves up once we get back to basics and start burning coal at full force again (how can you get more natural than by burning natural resources — duh!).

And for those 5,100 displaced journalists out there, you might be the “enemy of the people,” but you’re in luck. In the next decade, there will be three times the number of jobs opening up in public relations, with higher salaries than what you made in news, so you should have no trouble finding work and living a more favorable life.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Ryan Jarvi is city editor at The Mining Journal. He lives in Marquette with his wife, Sarah, and their dog, Tino. Contact him at rjarvi@miningjournal.net.

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