Reporters make 8 percent less than typical Americans (or maybe they make more)

Ebyline Blog
More great analysis of journalist salaries from Ebyline, whose Susan Johnston and Peter Beller report on reporters’ “lost decade.” Hacks’ median incomes outperformed U.S. median incomes from 2001-2008, Johnston and Beller write, but they plunged below that figure in 2008 and are leveling off well below it.

By last year reporters were making 8%, or almost $3,000, less than the typical American, not chump change. This rapid, recent undoing of a decade’s worth of gains looks a lot like the portfolio returns of many U.S. stock market investors who saw all of their profits from the long, slow tech-bubble rebound wiped out from 2007 to 2009 in what market pundits have dubbed a lost decade.

The median reporter salary in 2011 was $31,580, which is $2,880 less than the median salary of $34,460. Johnston and Beller relied on data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. But here’s where stats get confusing: The U.S. Census reported journalists’ median salaries were $50,000. A Georgetown University study published this year found median incomes for people with journalism degrees ranged from $32,000 annually for recent grads to $66,000 for people with graduate degrees. Not long ago, Johnston used BLS data to find the highest median incomes for journalists by state and found that Florida was a pretty swell place for reporters while Wyoming stinks on ice.

The clear lesson: Study petroleum engineering and blog on the side.

Related: Study: J-school grads’ unemployment rate better than average | Reporters: Move to Georgia, avoid Nebraska

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  • Melissa Bower

    Paying reporters in 2001 wages and hoping they’ll leave in a year so you don’t have to increase their pay and can hire a new college graduate is not a way to build a business. It’s a way to fail a business.