Survey: Newspaper Salaries Climb 3%

By: E&P Staff

Newspaper employees’ salaries increased modestly from 2003 and incentives also improved, according to the 2004 Newspaper Industry Compensation Survey (NICS).

Though specific salary figures from the confidential survey are given only to study participants, the survey helps identify trends in occupational groupings, said Robert Greene, quality control consultant to the NICS for more than 10 years. Administered by Inland Press Association, the 2004 survey is the 17th conducted by Inland and several co-sponsoring organizations.

The 2004 survey includes data from 502 daily newspapers from all 50 states and Canada, a significant increase from last year’s 455 participating papers. A comparison of the newspapers reporting in 2004 with those also reporting in 2003 reveals an average salary increase of 3.01% across all occupations.

Last year’s healthy increases in total direct pay, which includes salary and incentives, continued in 2004 for publishers and general managers. They received the greatest gains in total pay, according to the survey, with publishers enjoying a 9.8% increase, while general managers saw an 11.6% hike on average.

“The variable pay plans seem to be paying off better, which probably is an indication of industry health,” Greene said. “There is a trend toward increased emphasis on variable pay in most industries and it will probably persist.”

Entry-level reporters experienced standard salary increases in 2004 after phenomenal gains last year. In 2003, entry-level reporters received an average base pay jump of 6.8%. This year, their salaries and total compensation increased 2.1%.

Increases in the average base pay for top management positions were as follows:

Editor: 2.6%
Top circulation executive: 3.0%
Top advertising executive: 4.3%
Top operations executive: 3.1%
Top human resources executive: 3.5%
Top financial executive: 5.0%

The salaries of graphic artists dropped 5.7%, which can be explained in part by new hires replacing incumbents.

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