Every year, CareerCast.com rates 200 jobs based on average pay, stress, hazards and outlook. This year, “Reporter (Newspaper)” finished at 184, between “Sailor” and “Stevedore” (someone who loads and unloads ships).

Lists such as this are rather arbitrary, of course, but when did a profession that used to have at least a sense of pride become something of a joke in so many eyes?

One of the immediate answers on many people’s lips is the advent of the Internet and how newspapers were slow in adapting to it. That’s possible, but I’m unsure conditions at many newspapers were all that great even before then. I actually wonder if it was the incorporation of newspapers that is more to blame.

I unfortunately was not around when the newspaper I work for was privately owned, but I have heard tales from those who were. There were regular company events during the summer and holidays and real, honest-to-goodness Christmas bonuses. Even the carriers were treated well with giveaways and gatherings.

When the paper was acquired by a national corporation in the early 90s, the newly-appointed publisher’s first order of business was to make life so miserable for those with the highest salaries that they would leave, and they found a man who was good at doing just that. The good things about having your owners a direct part of your operations slowly vanished.

When I climbed aboard in late 2005, there was still a Christmas party at a nearby restaurant. We received $35 gift cards for our bonus. That downgraded to $25, then a windbreaker, then a hat and a tote bag. The party ended two years ago. Now there’s a buffet set up in the conference room where we get our food and return to our seats.

We have to make do with a mix of decade-old Macs and newer Dell PCs to lay out our pages. The carpets are worn out and dirty. Ceiling tiles growing mold have been removed. It took three drenchings of an editor’s office before the corporation ponied up the money to fix the deteriorating roof. And this is where the public comes to interact with us.

And it’s not the bosses here. They try as hard as they can to make things the best they can be, but they must deal with orders from above to continue cutting services, paper size, positions…

Perhaps corporate ownership of massive, nationally-read papers such as The New York Times and Wall Street Journal makes sense, but I don’t understand the benefit to smaller town venues who must struggle to balance a dedication to their locality with a dedication to a company headquartered several states away. Perhaps I am naive to the way business runs.

Perhaps I should change “Simple Saturday” to “Serious Saturday.”

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