Wage Survey: Low Starting Pay And Small Raises For Journos

By: Mark Fitzgerald

On average, cub reporters at daily newspapers make less than $30,000 their first year, according to the most comprehensive industry report on salaries and compensation.

The 2006 Newspaper Industry Compensation Survey found that the average entry-level salary last year for the 521 dailies participating in the study is up 17.3% from 2001, but is still a humble $29,048, or 558.62 a week.

They’d be better off moving to the classified department, where the average salary for an inside sales rep last year was $36,077.

Sports editors were paid an average salary of $52,632 last year, up about 15.5% from five years ago.

Newsroom raises are slowing down, the report suggests. While the base pay of beginning reporters increased by double digits since 2001, the raise between 2004 and 2005 was just 2.1%, well under the inflation rate of 3.4% last year.

But that was on the higher end of newsroom raises, according to the survey, which is produced each year by the Inland Press Association.

Beginning copy editors, for instance, saw their pay increase just 1.5% on average last year. Experienced copy editors received an average increase of even less, 1.4%. Experienced reporters received an average 2.6% increase, while photo directors were up 2.5%.

Specific findings of the survey, in which papers are identified only by circulation range, are confidential and provided only to participating newspapers. The industry averages of a few representative newsroom and sales salaries were provided to E&P by Inland. Information on salary increases, which compare the same papers in the 2004 and 2005 surveys, appeared in the Inland’s publication The Inlander.

In general, the survey found its better to be a manager when raises are being doled out. Top circulation managers, for instance, received an average 4% raise last year, and human relations department heads had no reason to squawk to HR: their base pay was up 4.5%.

The average daily newspaper publisher received a below-inflation raise in base pay of 3.1%, but total direct compensation, including incentives, actually declined on average by 0.3%.

If there was a pay winner on the paper, it’s that guy who runs the Web site.

The Inland survey found that the average base pay for an online editor jumped 8.1%, and increased 8.8% in total direct compensation.

Inland has been running the compensation survey for 75 years. The industry-standard survey is co-sponsored along with Inland by Newspaper Association of America, International Newspaper Financial Executives, and the New England Newspaper Association.

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