Reporters: Move to Georgia, avoid Nebraska

Ebyline Blog
Susan Johnston wrangled Bureau of Labor Statistics data about journalists' salaries into several fascinating maps. In certain states — media centers like New York, California and the Washington, D.C., area — people who self-report their job titles as "writer/author" make more money than the national average for that job title.

But when she looked at average wages for the "reporter/correspondent" category by state, the map changed: The higher cost of living in areas like the West Coast, Johnston writes, makes Georgia quite attractive (12 percent higher wages than the national average, and a favorable cost of living). Other good states for journos: Colorado, Arizona and Alaska, though the cost of living in Alaska indexes even higher than New York's.

Johnston also compared reporters' wages to statewide averages for all workers. Florida reporters can really lord over their neighbors (36 percent higher), as can Rhode Islanders (25 percent higher).

Interestingly, all three of Johnston's maps show that one of the worst states to be a reporter is Nebraska, where newspaper white knight Warren Buffett now owns 18 newspapers. Nebraska journalists make 27 percent less than the average Nebraska worker, and according to Johnston's map, they make at least 30 percent less than the the national average of their colleagues. I've annotated her map as a service to geographically challenged East Coast journalists:

Head on over to her post to speculate on reasons for the discrepancies.

I tooled around on the BLS site this morning and noticed some interesting facts about "reporter/correspondent" salaries:

"Newspaper, Periodical, Book, and Directory Publishers" pay the worst for such jobs when compared with broadcasters, cable TV companies and other industries.

And the four states with the highest concentration of reporters are New York, Florida, California and Texas, followed closely by the District of Columbia. D.C., which has a very high cost of living, has the highest annual mean wage for reporters/correspondents ($71,450), but Georgia is third on that list, at $57,450.

Earlier: Journalism majors make about $50,000

Correction: This post originally misspelled Susan Johnston's name.

  • 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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