It ain't easy being a journalist. We like to believe we're God's gift to humanity, rooting out the rot in government, standing up for the little guy.
We are the sunshine that disinfects.
Then one of those surveys comes along and rains on our parade.
On Tuesday, The Toronto Star reported on an Angus Reid poll that placed journalists near the bottom of the scale of public respect for common professions.
Twenty years ago, 73 per cent of Canadians said they respected journalists.
That number has dropped to 49 per cent - not worse than lawyers at 44 per cent, but still pretty depressing.
Not surprisingly, the booby prize goes to politicians. In 1994, a small majority of Canadians - 61 per cent - said they respected politicians. Now, only one in four would give them the benefit of the doubt.
"One of the reasons is that everybody (in politics) spends too much time running everybody else down," veteran politician Bob Rae told The Star.
That could also help explain the media's fall from grace, too. Blame the rise of right-wing spin shops, with their torqued rage against small-l liberalism and the media lambs who supposedly enable it.
Perhaps we shouldn't be surprised, then, that the biggest scandal to come along in years in this country involves a curious hybrid of two of the least revered professions: the journalist turned politician. (The only thing worse is a lawyer turned politician, of which our cup overfloweth.)
Journalism is not the most lucrative profession. In larger centres, reporters can make a comfortable dollar. But only the most industrious and talented ones make any kind of enviable wage.
As naïve as it may sound, most journalists are in it for the satisfaction they get from it. They're happy with what they do. They're proud when they get a good story. And most are mortified when they get something wrong.
Mike Duffy and Pamela Wallin once served as role models for budding journalists in this country. They reached the pinnacle of their profession, household names on TV sets across Canada.
Duffy sought out political shenanigans like a pig after truffles. The Old Duffster called it as he saw it. He was goofy and endearing in his own way, but never backed away from a tough story.
Wallin was a little more understated, but still highly respected. Her main strength was interviewing, which she did for years on both CTV and CBC television.
That these two in particular should be among a small handful of senators singled out for shady expense claims doesn't say much for a profession lauded as the public's eyes and ears on the ground.
The Duffy affair has been well dissected - fudged living expenses, followed by a lawyer-approved personal cheque cut by the prime minister's top staffer.
But Wallin's credibility is also in question, especially since she, like Duffy, resigned from the Tory caucus. Her travel claims of $321,000 since September 2010 seem a little rich. The skies certainly have been friendly to her.
The whole affair is an unprecedented disgrace.
I had a short e-chat with St. John's South MP Ryan Cleary on the weekend. As a former Telegram reporter and editor of the Independent newspaper, Cleary has followed a similar path to politics - though his is at least an elected post.
"(These) two high-profile scandals reflect negatively on journalism more than anything else," he admitted, but added, "Journalists are as corruptible as anyone."
On improving oversight, Cleary echoed a familiar refrain.
"The (auditor general) should be allowed into both the Senate and the House of Commons. Plain and simple."
Perhaps one reassuring element in all this is that Duffy was outed by the man who replaced him, CTV's Ottawa bureau chief, Robert Fife.
Alas, he who lives by the sword dies by the sword.
Peter Jackson is The Telegram's commentary editor. He rarely files an expense claim. Email: email@example.com.