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Columnist salaries

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by Mr. X, Oct 22, 2012.

  1. Mr. X

    Mr. X Member

    What are the typical salaries for the No. 1 sports columnists at the nation's top metropolitan newspapers -- New York Times, Los Angeles Times and Washington Post?
  2. Mizzougrad96

    Mizzougrad96 Active Member

    There's nothing typical about them. It's a safe bet TK and Wilbon were making a hell of a lot more when they were still at the WP as the guys who are columnists now...

    From what I hear, Plaschke and Simers are well-taken care of at the LAT.

    In most cases, the top-paid columnists in the country are not at papers like the NYT. This is not a knock at any of the NYT columnists, but if one leaves, the paper replaces them and doesn't miss a beat. If a paper like the KC Star loses Pos and Whitlock, it takes a bigger hit. Even though the replacements are outstanding, they're not as high-profile as their predecessors.

    I don't know how much of an impact TK and Wilbon leaving had at the WP because TK was writing very, very rarely and Wilbon had six zillion side projects. To be fair, both had tried to leave the WP for a couple years, but stayed out of loyalty.
  3. Dick Whitman

    Dick Whitman Well-Known Member

    What's your guess, Mizzou? $150K-$200K for the heavy hitters, the Plaschkes, Kravitzes, and Lincicomes of the world?
  4. Mizzougrad96

    Mizzougrad96 Active Member

    Completely guessing here...

    I would bet that Plaschke and Simers are well over $200K.

    The Rocky Mountain News got Lincicome (sp?) on the relatively cheap when he left Chicago. If I had to guess, I would say Kravitz is probably in the $150-$200K range.

    Where it gets a little murky is what is included in the deal. A lot of top columnists have radio shows that can be included in their deals that may double the value of their salary. I worked with a columnist whose annual deal was worth over $500K a year, but it was tied into his radio deal. If he lost the radio gig, the paper was on the hook for the money. It wouldn't surprise me at all if some of those huge deals have been adjusted down by 20-25 percent in recent years...
  5. Dick Whitman

    Dick Whitman Well-Known Member

    I was wondering that, too. Seems like these salaries are about the same as the numbers we were throwing around 10 years ago. That's probably the case in a lot of businesses. But in newspapers, in particular, how much value does a name sports columnist provide at this point? And is what amounts to paying for prestige a cost that newspapers are really willing to absorb these days?

    Also, with so many beat writers - not to mention independent bloggers - now providing more opinionated and sophisticated sport-specific analysis, you have to wonder also about the continued viability of generalist columnists. Fans of specific sports are so much more savvy now than they were 15 or 20 years ago. They don't necessarily trust a guy who hops from the NHL to the NBA to the MLB winter meetings from one night to the next. Nor, with so many specialists on top of so much minutiae in 2012, should they.
  6. Mizzougrad96

    Mizzougrad96 Active Member

    It would be interesting to see a list of all of the columnists who have left for jobs at ESPN or any of the websites in the past decade or so... I'm sure it would be a long list. Almost all of the big names who continue to work at newspapers are allowed to freelance or make TV appearances to boost their income. For example, writers who are on ATH, are paid about $500 a day to do the show. You do the show four times a week, that's pretty damn good "freelance" money.
  7. Dick Whitman

    Dick Whitman Well-Known Member

    Almost - not all, but almost - all of them rewarded for being outspoken and outlandish, accuracy be damned, while the thoughtful and nuanced continue to toil away.

    But that incentive system is a whole other conversation.
  8. Mizzougrad96

    Mizzougrad96 Active Member

    I worked with one columnist who does more than his share of work for ESPN these days and he's told me about the difference that doing those shows does for your profile. It takes them from being a local celebrity to being a national celebrity. He gets five figures for speeches these days.

    It definitely impacts their work as well. Some of the guys refuse to travel as much if they won't be available for their ESPN gigs. There were a couple guys who regularly covered Wimbledon and the British Open who don't do it anymore because they don't want to lose out on several weeks of ESPN money.
  9. da man

    da man Well-Known Member

    My recollection is that Randy Galloway got $300,000 a year to leave the Dallas Morning News for the Star-Telegram. And the rumor was that his contract included first-class air travel and a Lincoln Town Car as a rental car on road trips.
  10. Mizzougrad96

    Mizzougrad96 Active Member

    I'd be curious who people think the top 10 highest-paid NEWSPAPER columnist are. I think it would have been pretty easy to guess 10 years ago, but ESPN and radio stations and websites have raided so many of them...

    My guesses, in no particular order...


    I'm sure there are some NYC columnists who should be added to the list.
  11. I know a columnist at one of the best middle sized papers in the country, in a sports-crazy market, who says he hasn't looked at his newspaper check in 10 years.

    That's how much his radio gig is worth
  12. Mizzougrad96

    Mizzougrad96 Active Member

    That's the case at a lot of places. I have a friend who makes $60K at his newspaper job and more than twice that doing radio. He wants to quit the newspaper job, but the radio station won't let him because they said it adds to his credibility.
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