The American Society of Newspaper Editors has suddenly discovered that reporters are not in touch with lower- and middle-class Americans. From the LATimes (free registration required):
As recently as 1971, only 58% of newspaper journalists had college degrees; now 89% have degrees, according to the American Society of Newspaper Editors. But only 15.5% of the total population age 25 and older have finished college.
The median annual salary for “experienced reporters” working at newspapers with more than 250,000 daily circulation — the 40 largest papers in the country — was about $56,000 last year, according to a newspaper industry study. Pay for “senior reporters” — and for top reporters and editors at the largest of these papers — is substantially more. But median income for all U.S. workers over 15 is about $31,500.
OK, picture this. An unemployed 23-year-old laborer walks into the city room of, say, the Albany, N.Y. Times-Union and asks for a reporting job. No college, no clips, no experience, but he knows tons about the working-class community of the Capital District. Think he gets a job?
Of course not. First of all, he’s not even getting into the City Room of the T-U, because he first has to get past Security, which is designed to keep people like him out. Secondly, he probably doesn’t even read a daily newspaper, so what are the odds that he’s going to be asking for a job to begin with?
FYI, my starting salary at UPI in 1978 was $224.04 a week — about $12,000 per year. When I left in 1983, I was making $512 a week, which at $25,000 was top scale. Not much danger of getting rich there.