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

  • Andrew Beaujon

    Andrew Beaujon reported on the media for Poynter from 2012 to 2015. He was previously arts editor at and managing editor of Washington City Paper. He's the author of the 2006 book "Body Piercing Saved My Life," about Christian rock and evangelical Christian culture.


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