“I’m in it to find the truth/hold power to account/tell peoples’ stories — not for the money” will surely be the answer you get if you ask a journalist why he or she is in the industry. But realistically, how much can a journalist expect to make throughout his or her career? Angelina Irinici and Belinda Alzner found the numbers for a number of mainstream media organizations.
Whether it’s by j-school professors, parents and friends or industry veterans, most journalists and journalism students are constantly reminded about how much money they don’t — or will not — make.
The national average employment income of a journalist in Canada was $54,335, according to Statistics Canada’s 2006 census. This number is above the national average of $36,301 — so journalists aren’t doing that badly.
Many employers and their unions have made their collective agreements freely available online, so J-Source has gathered the numbers of a few media outlets to find out how much a journalist — in varying positions and stages of his or her career — can make.
All numbers provided are based on the most recent year in which collective agreements have been made available. This list is in no way to be considered comprehensive or definitive; as it has been pointed out, freelance rates are not included, and as Anthony Reinhart noted on Twitter -- "media organizations can, and sometimes do, pay extra on top of published union rates."
Toronto Star: Under the Toronto Star's most recent agreement, which expires at the end of 2012, the highest paid journalists are the deputy editors, who make $64,139 per year in their first year, or $88,888 if they have been there more than four years. A journalist makes $53,354 in their first year and after six years can make up to $84,365 per year.
The Globe and Mail: In 2012, the highest paid at The Globe are those in editor roles such as ROB news editor, assistant editor and deputy photo editor. These journalists make $89,324 per year. One group below includes columnists, editorial writers and foreign correspondents, who make $88,572. Reporters and photographers who start in 2012 would be making $49,254 and those who have been there for six or more years make $84,779.
The Canadian Press: While CP has ratified a new collective agreement, it has not yet been posted. Under its previous agreement that expired Dec. 31, 2011, the news editor makes $86,065 per year while the assistant news, sports, business editors, and deputy director of online news make $77,691. Reporters, editors, photographers and foreign correspondents start at $45,990 and have the potential to make $74,123 after five years. An entry-level editorial/audio assistant a journalist can make $30,364 and after three years can make $40,304.
CBC: Based on CBC’s agreement, which goes through until 2014, the national line-up and assignment producers start at $66,022 per year and after 9 ‘steps’ make $88,960. A national reporter, senior host, director or producer start at $61,188 and can make up to $77,208, while a host, senior videographer or senior production editor start at $58,356 and can make up to $74,235. An associate producer or editor makes $47,797 to start and can make up to $66,042 after 8 ‘steps.’ The most basic jobs like an editorial assistant or radio and television assistant start at $31,474 and can pay up to $43,793.
CityTV Vancouver: CityTV Vancouver’s most recent collective agreement, which expired in August 2011, lays out a pay scale that sees a senior reporter start at $54,804 per year, moving up to $75,476 after five years. An intermediate reporter starts at $45,648 and can make 59,460 after five years. Those numbers are the same for camera operators, junior associate producers and assignment coordinators. A senior camera operator or senior writer makes $47,940 when they start and $62,472 after five years. A junior writer/researcher and a production assistant start at $40,536 and after five years make $53,052. Production editors and reporters make $47,940 when they start and are making $59,940 after five years.
The Chronicle Herald: The Herald has made headlines with its labour negotiation this year, the details for which have not yet been made available. According to the union, the company wanted to cut starting salaries for reporters and photographers by about $12,000. As of their collective agreement that expired in 2007, employees in those positions were making $37,492 per year initially and $59,978 after four years. Also under this previous agreement, the paper’s copy editors started at $42,683 with the opportunity to make $61,140 after four years. A chief cartoonist at the paper started at $60,563 in his or her first year and a news editor makes $66,332.
Owen Sound Sun Times: For community news, the picture is a bit different. For example, the Owen Sound Sun Times, whose agreement expires in 2013, starts multimedia journalists at $26,654 per year and those who have been there for five or more years earn $50,322. Copy editors start at $39,052 per year and earn $52,988 after three years.
As the numbers show, none these particular journalism jobs pay six figures a year, the average is about $50,000, and that comes with a lot of work. A journalist’s job is not easy and expectations are high, but for those who succeed in landing a coveted journalism job may not be always financially rewarded, but they may find the job satisfying in other ways.
For more information and tips on breaking into the industry, check out this advice Jeff Gaulin gave to a J-Source reader. Gaulin is an award-winning journalist and manager of Jeff Gaulin’s Journalism Job Board.
The collective agreements for other newspapers can be found on the various union websites. Here is the list of members of the Southern Ontario Newsmedia Guild, as well as a list of organizations that Canadian Media Guild represents.
How much do freelance journalists make?
Last updated Aug 30, 2012