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Columnist Salaries???

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by mesoanarchy, Feb 24, 2007.

  1. mesoanarchy

    mesoanarchy New Member

    Does anyone out there know the "going rate" for a columnist at a major daily and/or at a major Internet sports media outlet?

    addendum: with the growing number of those who have viewed this post - 51 at present - I hope ther is'n a reticence to let loose with average salaries, or examples from those they know. For instance a friend at a major daily in LA who writes a sports blog for said daily makes only $80/post. An ESPN Page 2 columnist allegedly makes $75,000/year, while another allegedly makes about $200,000/ year. As has been said here, Simmons allegedly make $500,000/ year.

    But what are truths, what are lies, what is fact what is fiction?.... all knowledge is appreciated

  2. dave krieger

    dave krieger New Member

    Now that you’re approaching 100 page views without a response, I assume paranoia is starting to set in, so let me be the idiot that gives it a shot.

    First, nobody knows nuthin’, at least among writers. There is no way to confirm any of these salaries unless you’re a very talented hacker, so most of what you see, particularly at the high end, is speculation. The only published salaries are the Guild minimums at Guild papers, and those aren’t very helpful. Columnist minimums are usually a few bucks a week higher than reporter and copy editor minimums. At the major metros, the top minimums are generally in the upper five figures.

    Second, there’s a lot of lying going on. We have, as you may be aware, people with fairly large egos in this business who are not above letting it slip that a certain outfit in New York offered them this large sum and a certain outfit in California offered them this larger sum, which is how they ended up with this fantastic sum from their original employer. Could be true, but best not to bet the Torino.

    Third, and in direct contradiction to second, it is all about leverage. A columnist who gets an offer from another employer can either accept it or use it to secure a raise from his or her existing employer. The same columnist, absent such leverage, takes what his or her employer offers, which will generally be substantially less, unless he or she works for the San Francisco Giants.

    Fourth, leverage is much more difficult to come by than it used to be. Newspapers once went after one another's columnists all the time. Folks like Skip Bayless moved around every few years. In today’s market, with hiring freezes, buyouts and layoffs the norm, such offers are unseemly. What recruiting there is now seems largely the province of online outfits.

    Fifth, and most trite, the value of the gig to you is different from the value of the gig to anyone else. You know how much or little you want it. Somewhere, you know what it’s worth to you. Let them make you an offer. I’ve taken jobs where I felt I was underpaid knowing I would have taken even less. I’ve also turned down decent coin to do something I wasn’t that enthused about doing.

    My advice, worth exactly what you're paying: Don’t worry about what anyone else makes. Lots of people are underpaid and lots of people are overpaid. With very rare exceptions, you’re not getting wealthy in this business. If it’s a gig you want, don’t let money get in the way. If you’re indifferent, demand the moon. Either way, you can always lie about it later.
  3. HejiraHenry

    HejiraHenry Well-Known Member

    I'll never forget when USA Today hired Peter Vecsey and his people faxed the contract he was planning to sign back to the sports editor over the general sports department fax #.

    Damned right somebody (not me) made a copy of it before passing it along.

    Seems to me he was getting $140-150K ... and those were 1989 dollars.
  4. sportschick

    sportschick Active Member

    I believe Jemele Hill's contract at ESPN is reportedly worth around $200,000.
  5. mesoanarchy

    mesoanarchy New Member

    Thank you all for your answers, esp. Dave Krieger. Now that I've had some feedback I'll divulge that I'm a "lowly blogger" who was a pup of 18 to 20 the last time I wrote sports for a chain of weekly newspapers (I'm 33 now). Fifteen years ago, well 14, I received the princely sum of $27,000 to write articles appearing in all the weeklies plus act as managing sports editor for one of the papers.

    I then removed myself from the field of journalism to go to college and then pursue a career in my major, without ever losing sight of the sporting world. I returned to sports writing - well, I won't get into why because I may not be informed enough to know all that went into others' choices....

    Regardless, I began a sports blog in late October as I was asked to provide recent examples of my writing and three months later found, when Google's bots finally got hold of it my blog, that it was popular. One month since it has grown in popularity to the point where writers from major dailies on both coasts who blog for their respective newspapers regularly link to my posts.

    Now, I'm being approached by various sports media outlets for columnist work in the online sports sections of their publications. As I enter into my first round of talks this coming week the one piece of information I'm lacking is general salary knowledge.

    I know what I feel I'm worth and I know dollar amounts I will "leave on the table." However, I want to go into this process with eyes wide open and possessing all the information I can gather and have at my disposal.

    ...and to others who may view this: please feel free to add your thoughts - all info is appreciated.
  6. Simon_Cowbell

    Simon_Cowbell Active Member

    Does this flight have any barf bags?
  7. Moderator1

    Moderator1 Moderator Staff Member

    It's a lot. It's not that much.

    ESPN did hire several writers not too long ago in the 150,000 range. Great work if you can get it.
  8. Mystery_Meat

    Mystery_Meat Guest

    That $80-per-post deal would be great for certain people around here ..
  9. What are columnist salaries? More than you or I make. A lot more.

    Rack 'em.
  10. EE94

    EE94 Guest

    In Canada, would be $100G to $150G range, and those only at major outfits, of which there are very few.
  11. leo1

    leo1 Active Member

    mesoanarchy, i would echo what dave krieger posted.

    if someone found my blog and wanted to talk about a full-time gig, and i was looking to be paid like a full-time star columnist at a major daily, i would probably start negotiations asking for about $100K and be willing to settle for somewhere in the $50-60K range. maybe start a little higher just because it's a negotiation and you know you won't get what you initially ask. don't forget to think about negotiating good play (ie. on the home page X times a week, linked from their other site (ie. foxnews will put a link to your column on foxsports.com).

    take my advice for what it's worth. (which i realize is close to nothing but it's what i'd do).
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