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Salary Dilemma

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by DTSEPS, Jul 18, 2012.


    DTSEPS New Member

    •"Sports Editor" (writer, columnist, photographer, page designer, manages one stringer) at a larger, successful twice-weekly newspaper.
    • Subject, 24, has 2.5 years experience designing pages and running a sports department in a weekly/bi-weekly setting, as well as six years experience writing and taking photos across multiple platforms (daily, weekly, magazine, blog). He is rapidly approaching the conclusion of one full year at his current job.
    • Due to obligatory staff cuts caused by the recession and soon-to-end Bush tax cuts, subject — a seven-time state award winner — has recently taken on a heavier workload, including more general news page design responsibility, education writer, arts & entertainment writer and columnist, and copy writer for submitted news (community events, church events, society).
    • Subject's pre-tax salary is $22K.

    This could be anybody in the journalism world these days, over-worked and under-paid, and especially in a non-daily environment; however — with respect to the idea of paying one's dues — isn't the salary listed above nonetheless unconscionable given the subject's experience, skill set and work load?

    Other pertinent info: Managing Editor, who has 10 years experience overall, is making $40K after being promoted from the sports editor's position at the same paper. That individual's starting salary is known for a fact to have been $25K in 2006, and $28K before he was promoted almost a year ago. Managing Editor, however, never had to do anything but sports when he was the sports editor. … The average salary for a custodian in the United States is roughly $24.9K (www1.salary.com/Janitor-Salary.html)

    Knowing that at the conclusion of the first full year on a job is when raises are traditionally given, a raise is expected soon. What if a raise is not awarded, though? Should the subject demand a raise, and use the above information to his advantage? Or is this the sad nature of the newspaper world these days, and a harsh reality that must be faced? … Could the subject likely find a much better job for far better pay given his resume?
  2. LongTimeListener

    LongTimeListener Well-Known Member

    If "subject" makes demands and ultimately quits, managing editor will have two dozen resumes from viable candidates on his desk by Friday. Most of them will be happy to work for the same pay or maybe a bit less. "Subject" should understand this about the industry because it isn't going to get better and probably will get worse.
  3. sgreenwell

    sgreenwell Well-Known Member

    Agreed. It's not fair, but unless "subject" is producing such great work that he has tremendous cachet, he doesn't really have much leverage here. Also, the experience described strikes me as a bit of puffery. You have experience dating back to 18, which is nice, but it suggests to me "subject" either 1) doesn't have a college degree or 2) wasn't working full-time from 18 to 24, and it's the ability to handle a job full-time while producing good work that impresses hiring people, not the three years you were doing freelance work while in college.
  4. Editude

    Editude Active Member

    It's not fairness but the market. There are really two ways left to get a lot more money at a journalism job: 1) Get a new one and negotiate the starting salary better, and 2) Get a substantive promotion, not just in name only.
  5. Flying Headbutt

    Flying Headbutt Moderator Staff Member

    Sad truth is you're only worth what someone will pay you. Think you're worth more? Find someone who agrees. It's possible.
  6. Batman

    Batman Well-Known Member

    What Editude said. I haven't had a raise in three years, and don't expect one anytime soon. And I consider myself a bit lucky in that regard, when you consider all the people dealing with pay cuts and furlough days.
    You want a raise? You can ask, but you might not like the answer. The easiest and perhaps only way to get a raise anymore is to switch jobs or get a promotion.
  7. BDC99

    BDC99 Well-Known Member

    This was my thought as well. Really, you have 2.5 years of experience, which isn't much. Certainly you are underpaid for the volume of work you say you are producing, but a lot of people are underpaid at 24. Your best bet is to find something in a slightly larger market or try to get a bump at your current place, but that is what newspapers are known for ... underpaying the young guys. I was in a similar position a few years after college, but I had a great boss who went to bat for me and got me the raise I deserved. But in this climate I'm not sure that would happen now. Hopefully you have someone who will go to bat for you. I don't think you bringing up the other people's salaries would be a good move, since the experience/education/etc is probably not the same as yours.
  8. Rumpleforeskin

    Rumpleforeskin Active Member

    If we had a 'Like' button or something...
  9. Stitch

    Stitch Active Member

    There are plenty of jobs paying more than $22K, even ones in Podunk you will only see listed on state newspaper association websites. You'll probably have to leave your state, though.
  10. WriteThinking

    WriteThinking Well-Known Member

    This is all true. Raises usually have little to do with performance, which may only determine whether you will get one at all. How much will be dependent on what the company decides it can bear, and what the market will bear.

    That's what you're worth, unfortunately. And $22,000 a year at a weekly (or twice-weekly) sounds very typical in most areas. Heck, it's very typical for many early-career dailies.

    It's like housing. Your house is worth what someone will pay for it, no matter how much you think it should or wish it would sell for.
  11. UNCGrad

    UNCGrad Member

    Try to get into PR or marketing now. The earlier you can make this move the better. In 2 years I went from smalltown daily SE to small univ. sports info to marketing at a major resort. I buest my ass for nearly 12 years in newspapers. In 2 years since getting out, I've basically gotten a $12K raise.

    PR and marketing. Or SID. Now, while you're young. You'll be amazed how much further along you will be than I am at 36.
  12. Drip

    Drip Active Member

    You want more loot? Get a new job out of the industry.
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