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Northwestern University, not far from where I live, turns out hundreds of graduates from its Medill School of Journalism every year. Even with a bachelor’s degree or Master of Science in journalism from this top-rated university, most of its graduates have to start at the bottom. Like all of their peers, most begin their careers working in a smaller market as they gain experience and possibly look to being offered a job in a major metropolitan area. According to hiring site Indeed.com, the current average salary for a journalist in the United States is $48,073.
That salary may sound decent, but remember it’s the average, and fresh-out-of-school broadcast and newspapers reporters can expect much lower starting pay, depending on who they work for and where they’re located. As these journalists watch their friends and colleagues jump to related fields like public relations, marketing and streaming content production, they are likely asking themselves why they are settling for so little pay.
Mike Cavender, executive director emeritus of the Radio Television Digital News Association, provides insight and recommendations in his article “Bright Journalists, Dim Prospects?” in the current issue of TFM, the magazine for members of the Media Financial Management Association. Cavender walks us through some history on journalists’ pay and benefits, their current plight — which isn’t just around money — and what TV and radio stations and newspaper agencies can do to ensure their high-quality journalists will stick around to provide the content that keeps these companies competitive and profitable.