Can You Earn More Through Print or Broadcast Journalism?

August 1, 2014

There is hardly a month that goes by that someone doesn’t declare print journalism as ‘dead’, often using the medium to do so. While the industry has definitely changed dramatically over the past decade – for better or worse – there is still a place for those who wish to dedicate themselves to the written word.

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The divisions between print, online and broadcast journalism have never been more blurry (many outlets use an amalgamation of all three) and a journalist these days may find him or herself shifting between the these different areas of expertise over the course of their career. But which discipline is more lucrative from a salary point of view – print or broadcast journalism?

Let’s take a look at the average salaries for the various roles in each sector.

Reporters and Correspondents – $44,360

The annual salary for reporters doesn’t vary dramatically between the different type of media, though radio and television correspondents can expect around $48k while those working in print are more likely to earn $40k (the bold figure above is an average across all sectors). However, if you can get into a job with a cable or subscription platform, the fee rises to a cool $53k.

Naturally, this all correlates neatly with how much competition is in each area – three times as many people work in newspaper reporting than in broadcast journalism. And, of course, national-level reporters and newscasters are able to command a fee way above national average.

Editors – $62,820

It’s important to note here that ‘editor’ is quite a nebulous word that encompasses a wide range of jobs, and this slightly throws off the average salary figure – the above includes things like periodicals, books, and political work.

So, instead, let’s focus on the specifics. Broadcast editors can expect $56k a year, but it’s those who work in newspaper editing that come up trumps here at $62k. That all said, there is even a lot of variance within those figures – the state in which you work can make as much as $20k difference to your salary. In addition, those in the top 10% of earners are on over $100k, while at the other end of the spectrum it can drop as low as $29k.

In short, averages don’t work here. The salary for editors really is job-specific.

Writers – $69,250

A cool $70k for writing work may sound like a dream come true, but again, the figure above is skewed by those working in motion pictures (as well as a few blockbuster novelists). The reality for those in print or broadcast journalism is slightly less impressive, but there isn’t much difference between the two – writers for radio and television average a $59k salary, while newspaper writers are on a slightly lower $52k.

AV Technician – $43,300

Needless to say, an audio visual technician role is specific to broadcast journalism. Many AV technicians work freelance, with the mean average wage being around $20 per hour.

This entry generally refers to low to mid level technical work, and excludes engineering roles such as sound engineering technicians who earn slightly more at $49,860.

Broadcast Technician – $38,920

Despite being a rather complex skillset, those who are responsible for all the equipment that gets the broadcast from a news team to a listener or viewer are generally paid a lot lower than other roles. The average salary does rise for those who land a job with cable and subscription programming, but only up to $47,650.

There doesn’t appear to be much variance between states, either; New York averages the highest at $54k, while Illinois is the lowest at $39k.

News Analyst – $84,710

Excluding becoming in the top 10% of reporters and correspondents – the famous kind that run their own national shows or whose writing sells newspapers by the thousands – being a news analyst is where the money is.

The difference between the print and broadcast fields are minimal; those in radio and television average $84,780 while print news analysts can expect to pull in $85,040. It should be noted, however, that job opportunities for those looking to work with a newspaper are few and far between (in fact, it’s reported that there are only 140 employees doing this in the entire country).

All figures from the Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics’ most recently released information (May 2013). References to ‘average’ refer to the mean average, unless otherwise noted.