‘Pi Press’ Editor Defends Publishing Employee Salaries

By: E&P Staff

Despite criticism, newspapers around the country are publishing complete listings of the salaries of public employees.

Within the last month, lists of the names of state and city employees, their positions, and their salary information has been posted online in papers such as the Lansing (Mich.) State Journal, the St. Paul Pioneer Press, and the Houston Chronicle despite the protests of public employees and municipal unions. In an editor’s note published Monday, St. Paul Pioneer Press Editor Thom Fladung defended his paper’s decision to share such “private” info with readers.

“Some states make all employee salaries available online,” Fladung wrote. “We do not believe anyone’s safety was compromised in publishing this information. It is already available from other sources. … Nor do we believe publishing this information puts anyone at greater risk of identity theft. We are including names, job titles and salaries, but that is all.”

In his column, Fladung also quoted the Sacramento Bee public editor Armando Acuna, saying, “‘If you work for the government, you are a public employee, with all that entails. You are paid by taxpayers, who are
entitled to know how much you are paid, not in some abstract way but in real dollars and cents. That’s the deal. You know that going in.'”

Fladung also noted the benefits of listing salaries: “The public employee salaries also are part of a larger story, which we are publishing [Monday], that documents some important and recent trends in public employee pay, including some emerging differences between state and local employees’ salaries.”

To see the Pioneer Press’ database of public employee salaries, go here.

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