SF Mcglone

Journalists don’t make enough — it’s time to get mad

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What brings a median salary up or down? I know the literal answer is outliers, but when I was taking a look at the State of the Media 2018 from the Pew Research Center, I wanted to look a bit deeper.

Near the end of each section, from cable news to podcasting, was the heading “newsroom spending.”

Buckle up because I’m about to get playfully socialist.

None of the reporters’ salaries broke a median of $60,000, and while editors don’t appear to make much more than that, I can’t help but wonder why the workers aren’t being, in my opinion, appropriately compensated for creating the content that quite literally is their industry. You can’t have a news media without the news. What would higher-paid executives make decisions about if the product didn’t exist?

There’s money in media, we all know that. Ads, subscriptions, and other methods of taking in cash from consumers are ubiquitous and the reach of media grows every day. Nearly everyone is a customer, like it or not.

Why isn’t that money going back into the pockets of the people who make it happen?

One reason is that the workers aren’t getting their cut of the profit, and media is treated like every other business or corporation model in that the “prime movers,” as Ann Rynd misnomered them, take huge sums, largely for distributing content to other distributors.

What I want to see in the next few years is the insane amount of work that grunts in the media to reflect back in their salaries. Some have tried the Patreon model, where media-makers are paid by the individuals who consume their work directly. Others have branched out into making new companies.

In my opinion, we need an entirely new business model for the media, journalists, in particular, to reflect the work they do in the digital age. It’s more far-reaching than ever before, even a story in a small local paper, and that needs to be recognized.

Something I plan to research in the months ahead is what the business model could be, and how it can best serve the people who make the content.

It could be an app that tracks the impact of individual stories or photographs, calculating the amount of money and eyes it attracts and converts it into monetary value. It could be a compelling philosophical/economic argument.

I’ll let you know.

6 thoughts on “Journalists don’t make enough — it’s time to get mad

  1. I like it! Journalists work too hard to not see much of that money come back to them. It would be interesting to see this new business model. I’m excited to see what you come up with, good luck!

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  2. You’ve brought up a point that many people, no matter what industry they’re in, usually avoid talking about. As aspiring journalists, I think many of us have been told that we shouldn’t be in this industry for the money, but as you’ve pointed out, why not? I like how you mentioned that there IS money to be made in media, it’s just not being dispersed in a way that is anything close to equitable. I assumed that most people in the media industry didn’t make that much money, but your post made me think about the higher levels of and business side of the organization in a new way.

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  3. This is a bold idea. I think as aspiring media professionals, we are afraid to be vocal about the concept of money. It’s no secret journalists have never been able to be big spenders – it’s always been about just getting food on the table while doing a job they love. While that is noteworthy and honorable, I do agree that as journalists we are the ones creating content read by billions. If all the journalists went on strike, who would tell the stories? Perhaps your average Joe on social media or an executive trying to compensate, but without journalists the field would die out.

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  4. I like your article. For money, none of us is a god. We need money for our lives and needs. As a journalist, I also hope that our wages will rise. In my opinion, our salary is very low. Now the situation of traditional media is not very good, some famous large newspaper companies are facing bankruptcy, when the companies are bankrupt, the lives of employees will also be full of more uncertainties.

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  5. I like the concept of the article. I do feel that most media members and journalists do not get enough credit for their work in the salary department. After reading your take, it made me think if being a journalist was a higher paying job, do you think more people would be interested in going into it? This just left me with the idea that increasing the salary in a very competitive market might make it even more competitive and potentially make it so the best of the best journalists are the ones who are getting jobs.

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  6. SF, what a great way to tackle such a complicated topic. Journalism salaries are notoriously low on average. This not only represents badly the time that journalist put into creating stories but it also discourages potential future journalists from making a career out of it. I have certainly taken future compensation into account when choosing not to peruse a purely journalistic path. Raising the salaries would certainly bring new talent in the pool and raise the moral of those who have already been in the field.

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