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U.S. business journalists’ median salary is $56,220, Reynolds Center survey finds

reporters' notebook

Median salaries for U.S. business journalists varied by place of employment from $50,100 for print to $78,438 for wire services in 2010-11. Photo by Flickr user Roger H. Goun.

U.S. business journalists reported a median salary of $56,220 for 2010-11, according to research for the Donald W. Reynolds National Center for Business Journalism.

Other findings: 14 percent of those business journalists surveyed in mid-July said their newsroom was currently hiring full-time journalists, and one in five said their newsroom had shrunk in the past six months.

The research also found this breakdown for median salaries by place of employment in 2010-11:

  • Print: $50,100
  • Freelancing: $54,091
  • Broadcast: $55,588
  • Online: $57,308
  • Wire services: $78,438.

For editors and supervisors overall, the median was $57,308, and for reporters, it was $55,714.

Those figures come from phone surveys of 773 randomly selected business journalists, about 60 percent of whom were interviewed in 2010, with the rest questioned in 2011. The median means half make more and half make less.

The research was commissioned by the Reynolds Center and conducted by Behavior Research Center Inc., a market-research firm in Phoenix. | Please see the last page of Business Journalists Study 2011 (PDF) for salary data.

The 2010-11 median is lower than the $65,000 to $70,000 that was volunteered by 394 business journalists in an informal online survey by the Society of Business Editors and Writers last year. It finished collecting data for its 2011 survey Aug. 12.

In the Reynolds research, fewer business journalists reported a drop in pay than when the same question was asked in 2010. Last year, about one in three reported a decline in pay over the past two years, compared with fewer than one in five this year.

They also expressed a bit of optimism about future staffing in their own newsrooms:

  • About one in five said the number of journalists in their newsroom had declined in the past six months, but only half that number expected further declines in the next six months.
  • About one in 10 said the number of business journalists in their newsroom had dropped in the past six months, but, again, only about half that number thought business journalists would decline in their newsroom in the next six months.

At The Philadelphia Inquirer, for example, PhillyDeals columnist Joseph DiStefano said the paper is hiring junior reporters and Web producers. “Our paper has folded the daily business section into the back of the A section, but we continue to field a team of business-beat reporters about as large as it was in the mid-’90s.”

“Analysis of Business Journalists Survey on Newsroom Hiring, Pay 2011” from Reynolds Center on Vimeo.

In other survey findings, when business journalists were asked in 2011 where they got their news about the media industry, they named, in order:

  1. The New York Times
  2. Poynter.org’s Romenesko
  3. The Wall Street Journal
  4. MediaBistro
  5. Twitter.

Since last year, the proportion of business journalists getting their industry news from Twitter and Facebook more than doubled.

In both years, when asked about training, business journalists most often cited a need for training in multimedia skills, social media and computer-assisted reporting.

Business Journalists Study 2011 (PDF) was conducted by the Behavior Research Center Inc. in Phoenix.  The phone survey conducted July 18-21 has a margin of error of +/- 5 percent. The 300 journalists surveyed from July 18-21, 2011, included 87 from print, 87 from wire services, 57 from broadcast, 42 freelancers and 27 from online. DiStefano was not among them. The 2010 survey, conducted from April 19-May 6, included 473 business journalists, with the same proportions from the different places of employment. The two years of data were used to calculate median salaries because the larger sample size affords a higher level of confidence in each median. The center plans to continue to track the rolling, two-year median salaries going forward.


The Reynolds Center is based at Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication in Phoenix. More than 12,000 journalists have benefited from the Reynolds Center’s free training since 2003. The center’s mission is to help journalists cover business better.

For more information about this report, email Linda Austin, Reynolds Center executive director, or call 602-496-9187.

In 2014, Basics, Career tips, Jobs.

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