Posted on July 7, 2008
Journalism salaries and careers
I’m still bullish on journalism, but young people considering a career in journalism need to get the facts straight:
Most longtime journalists will tell you: they don’t do it for the money. If you love going to work every day, that’s worth a lot more than having a bunch of knickknacks in your house. (On the other hand, you’ve got to pay the bills, so do your own math.)
The newspaper business is in deep financial trouble right now — jobs are being eliminated continually. But there are still jobs out there for journalists with certain skills. You need to be savvy about what the jobs are, what the work entails. Here are two lists of currently open jobs (one and two), via Journalistopia.
Salaries of journalists often depend more on the experience of the individual than on the degrees obtained — only about 10 percent of journalists working in the United States hold a graduate degree. Someone starting out could look to make anywhere from $20,000 to $30,000, though the median salary for journalists in 2001 was approximately $44,000. (Source: The Princeton Review)
So forget about that graduate degree — just go out and start working.
I’m sorry to say that the 2008 average annual salary in journalism is $41,000, according to SimplyHired.com. (You know the difference between average and median, don’t you?)
I’d also like to say a word about writing. Top-notch writing skills are essential in every journalism job (even TV news jobs). There’s much more to journalism, however, than writing. If you envision a leisurely life lounging at a computer keyboard, writing whatever strikes your fancy, DO NOT consider a career in journalism. That is not what journalism is.
A colleague of mine expressed dismay when he read a recent posting for a journalism internship — the list of “mandatory skills” does not include writing, interviewing, fact-checking, or reporting. My reply to him: The job description says they want a journalist. A journalist is someone who can write, report, conduct interviews, check facts, and do it all to a high degree of accuracy, on deadline. There is no reason to list those attributes — the word “journalist” says it all.
JournalismJobs.com is a great place to look for jobs. Even if you’re not in the market right now, it’s very smart to read the job listings now and then to see what kinds of skills are in demand.