The term “journalist” is a broad one. It encompasses a variety of news professionals, such as reporters, newscasters and radio broadcasters, to name only a few. With so many avenues to pursue within this field, you might think jobs are rampant. Sadly, this is not the case, largely because of the decline in newspaper and magazine subscriptions. To gain an edge on the competition, and ensure a decent starting salary, experience in the industry in the form of internships or stringer jobs helps increase your starting pay when you begin your journalism career..
In 2011, journalists averaged $43,640 a year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. But high salaries of more experienced journalists can skew this figure. A better reflection of a journalist’s earning potential is the median wage — basically the midpoint of salaries for this occupation. This number is closer to $35,000 a year, and it doesn’t even account for experience.
Digital Starting Salaries
A survey conducted by the Radio Television Digital News Association found that starting salaries were much lower than the median wage for all journalists. For example, the average starting salary for a television reporter was $23,300 a year. A radio news reporter, on the other hand, earns more than this, making an average of $25,100 a year. Multimedia journalists averaged $25,000 a year, while TV news writers fared even better, averaging almost $29,000 a year. Of all digital outlets, the highest earning potential lies in the World Wide Web, where median starting salaries are $35,000 a year.
Print Starting Salaries
Although readership on print media is in decline, newspapers and magazines still employ journalists. A survey from the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication provides an idea of what journalists in print media can expect to make in a year. As of 2010, recent graduates in journalism can expect a starting salary of just $25,000 a year at a weekly newspaper. Those at a daily newspaper enjoy slightly higher salaries, earning about $27,500 a year. Consumer magazines pay the highest, offering starting salaries closer to $30,000 a year.
If starting salaries weren’t disheartening enough, employment opportunities for journalists look rather dim. From 2010 to 2020, employment is expected to decline by 8 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. A drop in readership definitely hurts, which then damages advertising revenue — the main source of income for newspapers and magazines. This causes news organizations to downsize staff. Adding to the problem are mergers and consolidations, which are followed by a reduction in staff, including reporters and correspondents, so competition for available jobs will remain strong.
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: Reporters and Correspondents
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: Reporters, Correspondents and Broadcast News Analysts
- Radio Television Digital News Association: 2012 TV and Radio News Staffing and Profitability Survey
- Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication: Annual Survey of Journalism & Mass Communication Graduates
Based in Minneapolis, Minn., Dana Severson has been writing marketing materials for small-to-mid-sized businesses since 2005. Prior to this, Severson worked as a manager of business development for a marketing company, developing targeted marketing campaigns for Big G, Betty Crocker and Pillsbury, among others.