Haters

Hey readaz.

G and I were talking this weekend, and we noted that we’re in two of the least-respected professions in America. It seems 38% of respondents to a Gallup poll rated lawyers as a low or very-low respected profession, while the same survey in 2004 found only 16% of people rated newspaper reporters as “high or very high” in respect. (TV reporters had 23% approval – WTF?)

What’s up with this? My theory is that lawyers and reporters are most visible at the same time that they’re at their worst. People tune in to the news when something bad happens, so there’s already the subconscious association of reporter = bad happening. Then you add in the endless TV shots of victims crying while being asked, “How do you feel?” and things look even more invasive. (Nevermind that there’s a huge demand for such stuff.) Why are newspaper reporters ranked lower than TV? I think the negative side of TV washes off onto the newspaper, as a newspaper frequently breaks the negative story in the first place (when was the last time TV news broke a scandal of any kind that required number-crunching analysis?) and print reporters generally aren’t the polished, beautiful people we see on TV. It’s a lot easier to forgive and forget with a blow-dried smiling dude than it is with a gruff, cheap-suited newspaper bulldog.

As for lawyers, when I hear “attorney”, the first person who comes to mind after G is Edgar Snyder (“391-2101!”), accident and injury lawyer from the Burgh. Edgar apparently has one of the bigger ad budgets among Pittsburgh law firms, with Berger and Green seemingly in a close second. These guys are in every city, and their advertising is ubiquitous, so ambulance-chasing isn’t hurting for brand recognition. The other time lawyers make a major media appearance is with high-profile criminal trials. When it’s a case where the public has made its mind up in favor of a guilty verdict, they’re going to have a hard time liking the defense lawyers who are arguing the opposite.

Anyway, all you readaz should remember that for every Geraldo, there’s a Helen Thomas; and for every Berger and Green, there’s a well-respected judge. Peace.

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10 Responses to “Haters”

  1. Shoulda become a doctor. We get rapid respect and people just trust us. Then we take out the wrong testicle and we are the devil. We also cause CP, and treat people with the wrong drugs. Those are just perks though

    Posted by Craig | April 23rd, 2007 at 10:33 am
  2. Yeah, lawyer jokes got old real fast after I started law school.

    I think most of the venom is because people only come into contact with lawyers for bad reasons. Or, if it is a good/neutral reason, it costs them a lot of money.

    Re: reporters… I think a lot of people get steamed by columnists and then paint all reporters with that broad brush.

    Plus, all that stuff you said.

    Posted by Jerry | April 23rd, 2007 at 3:39 pm
  3. As a general rule I agree with the poll. In my mind it’s because both professions are parasites. Yes I might really need a lawyer someday but they don’t really produce anything. They just feed off the system.

    Reporters are the people who never do anything but criticize those who do. The same people writing “how could they let him stay in class” stories about VT were writing “how could they kick him out of the dorms” stories about a guy at GW last year who showed violent and depressive traits. The people who write stories complaining about the CIA’s methods can’t wait until the next attack to complain about intelligence failures.

    Personally I have less of a problem with columnists. At least they’re supposed to have an ax to grind unlike their supposedly neutral brethren.

    Posted by Rich | April 23rd, 2007 at 9:06 pm
  4. Damn Rich, we wouldn’t want to generalize or anything.

  5. Hey the job is what it is, the real story is how those people became journalist or doctors. And they deserve the bank they make, they are professionals after all. Hell I am part of the lowest profession, insurance. I like it cause of the low expectations.

  6. I think that with reporters it’s because they’re often bringing bad news, and no one wants to hear that. And because our speeded-up news cycle can often make reporters sound dumb–you have to put out stories every day, every hour, but sometimes there’s really not anything to say, and maybe journalists should acknowledge that.

    With lawyers, it’s fear. Wasn’t it Seinfeld who said that it’s like you’re playing Monopoly but these guys are the only ones who’ve read the rules? People are afraid that these lawyers will find a way to use the rules to their advantage.

  7. As an attorney, I can say that too many people in my profession have earned their bad reputations. Too many people have gone into the law to be rich, and too many are smarmy know-it-alls. Too many young lawyers are also poorly educated, and uninteresting boors. A specialized undergraduate degree with a law degree equals maleducation.

    That being said, lawyers are easy to hate on and I think members of the profession should understand that and change behavior to try to help people understand the good lawyers can do.

  8. Perhaps if I end up being a doctor and a reporter, I can combine both the highs and lows of professional respect 🙂

    Posted by Julia | April 27th, 2007 at 9:22 am
  9. Very much agree with your take on this, Pat.
    When I was first year in law school, a young attorney jokingly told me to enjoy it because its the zenith of my career in terms of people’s respect. Everybody feels for a sleep-deprived student. Once you pass the Bar exam, its all downhill from there.

  10. Btw, nice work on the new blog.

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