The news that two Pulitzer winners have switched to PR touched off a slew of comments knocking journalism as a career. But Washington Post's Chris Cillizza is having "more fun than ever."


He puts the lie to the false claim by that newspaper reporter is the worst of 200 jobs in the U.S. That ranking is a publicity stunt for praised by media blogger Jim Romenesko. Media fell for it like a ton of bricks.

"I called up CareerCast publisher Tony Lee and told him it was a brilliant move to put reporter on the bottom of his list," writes Romenesko.

Ranking journalists as lower than "dishwasher" is nonsense and based on "weak science" (if any), says Daniel Mitchell. He notes that numerical values are given to such things as "degree of public contact" and "degree of competitiveness" and only total scores are given.

Measuring social research is different from measuring atmospheric pressure or the amount of water in a beaker, he notes. Lots of hokie "seat-of-the-pants" judgments are being made by CareerCast.

Journalist jobs have dipped to 42,280 vs. 229,100 for PR posts, according to the Dept. of Labor. But it still remains one of most satisfying of all occupations according to most journalists themselves.

"It's about finding things out and then telling people what you've found out," wrote Cillizza April 15. "That's the mission we're all on—trying to understand and synthesize the world around us."

There is "a fair amount of stress" in the job and it's not "terribly high-paying," he notes. "I love spending every day trying to figure things out in the political world. I love talking to people—sources and other journalists—who make me see something I couldn't see on my own."

PR Pays More But Is Also Stressful

The press that picked up CareerCast's bust on J's fail to note that the same company has repeatedly named PR jobs as among the most stressful. PR was No. 6 in stress in 2014 after being as high as No. 2 in 2011. It was No. 5 in 2013. Newspaper reporter was No. 2 in 2014.

If you ask us, reporters and PR people are causing each other a lot of stress these days. They used to be near the top of the corporate power chain. PR's wined and dined reporters at the best restaurants and took them to the top shows, sporting events and other entertainments for decades until the early 1980s. Finding out what was on reporters' minds was a key goal of PR.

A sea change in attitude took place. Reporters became "the enemy" to be avoided. PR people were even told to avoid each other lest some corporate secret leak out. At least 25 PR luncheon and dinner groups that used to meet in New York went belly up. One of the last to give up the ghost was PR Society: New York, holding its last lunch on May 9, 2013. Emails became the stock way of dealing with the press.

Reporters and PR's snapping at each other bring to mind townspeople showing up at a castle's back door in the Middle Ages with produce, livestock, etc., and being treated meanly by the servants. The lords and ladies were high above in the castle, insulated from this daily fray and couldn't care less. There was no way to reach them.

Enter the Internet, a Reporter's Dream

Intellectual congress with PR people may have vanished but reporters now have the cornucopia of the web as a way to find soul mates and confreres. Boundless research vehicles as well as experts eager to talk and trade views are at their command. No reporter would trade the old PR friendly days for today's web capabilities.

Journalists who want to remain in the occupation should start their own businesses on the side, something that their employers might even help with since it will keep wages down. Journalists collect a lot of information that can be helpful to businesses. They must learn how to package and market it.

Yours truly, having obtained a post as ad columnist for the Chicago Tribune in 1968 based in New York, started a newsletter and then Directory of PR Firms on the side. When the Trib job ended in 1972, the O'Dwyer Co. was well established.

J's Attack Stonewalling

Journalists encounter lots of stonewalling these days from PR and corporate/government officials. But they have two options. They can report the stonewalling, bringing pressure, and they can seek ways around it. The web presents lots of avenues for this.

O'Dwyer reporters supposedly were barred from the PRSA Foundation's Paladin dinner April 23 unless we paid $500 each. But three staffers went anyway, not paying but staying only for the cocktail party. We met many of the guests and took pictures. Foundation president Lou Capozzi had sent us the text of Charlotte Otto's speech in advance so we had full coverage the next day. There was no coverage of the event at all on the Foundation's website on Friday.

For the first time in seven years, the company associated with the Paladin winner (Procter & Gamble) did not supply press tickets.

As is usual, no nametags were provided to attendees at the dinner. Blockage of information is a habit with PRSA. Other PR groups including Institute for PR and Arthur Page would not dream of not having nametags.

PRSA, parent of the Foundation, has blocked us from covering any conference events including the exhibit hall since 2010. But some progress was made in 2013-14 after we sent letters to Bill Marriott, head of the hotel chain, who is a devout Mormon. Last year, for the first time since 2010, this reporter was allowed to cover the Assembly. Marriott, which had fully enforced the PR Society's boycott against us in Orlando in 2011 and San Francisco in 2012, then assigned us a table in the lobby of its hotels in Philadelphia and Washington, D.C., in 2013 and 2014.

We were allowed to set up directories, magazines and NLs in the lobby in each case but virtually no one came. Only one student among 1,000 present in D.C. visited us. No doubt leaders had spread the word to duck our "exhibit." VP-PR Stephanie Cegielski twice stationed herself opposite our table in D.C. apparently to check on anyone who might visit us.

Appeal to be Made to Kathleen Matthews

Matthews, QuallsMatthews, Qualls

A Marriott will again be the scene of the 2015 Society conference in Atlanta Nov. 8-10. Since O'Dwyer lobby exhibits work so poorly, we're writing to CEO Bill Marriott, Marriott PR head Kathleen Matthews, and Atlanta Marriott Marquis general manager Erica Qualls asking for Marriott to stop sitting on its hands while a press boycott takes place on its premises. The O'Dwyer Co. should be one of the more than 45 regular conference exhibitors.

Kathleen Matthews, whose husband hosts MSNBC's "Hardball with Chris Matthews," has talked openly about running next year for the seat of Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), who wants to succeed retiring Senator Barbara Mikulski.

She is on the boards of Catholic Charities Foundation, Ford's Theatre and Shakespeare Theatre Company. Perhaps she will at last take a look at the press boycott taking place on Marriott premises and live up to her ethical and religious values.