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The future of the news business
September 23, 2009 2:48 PM   Subscribe

The newspaper industry is facing challenges, and what might be done to ramify the situation Newspapers have been an institution for over a hundred years, but are now under threat of being undermined by the Internet and other sources. This article gives a decent background of the current crisis faced by the industry and how the industry might respond to the threats the printed paper faces.
posted by reenum (38 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

 
Oh, please, may I be the first to say...

Ramify?

posted by SLC Mom at 2:51 PM on September 23, 2009 [14 favorites]


Copy editor quip: You mean "rectify." "Ramify" means to "branch out." While newspapers have to ramify to rectify the situation, ramifying the situation will not rectify it.
posted by klangklangston at 2:52 PM on September 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


But I love my newspaper, and it grieves me to see it pared down to a ghost of its former self and wrapped in cheesy advertisements.
posted by SLC Mom at 2:52 PM on September 23, 2009


Rectify? It damn near killified!

Sorry
posted by jquinby at 2:53 PM on September 23, 2009 [21 favorites]


Unless pay-walls are tied to something as easy as a single click in iTunes or on Amazon, online news will not be paid directly for by the consumer (rather than through subsidized advertising impressions).

Even then, it's unlikely. (As always, the holy grail of business models is a micro-payment solution that works... not gonna happen)
posted by vectr at 3:01 PM on September 23, 2009


That's a hopeful and intriguing—and thorough—article, Reenum. Thanks for posting it.
posted by klangklangston at 3:01 PM on September 23, 2009


Yes but how could we Rammsteinify the situation?
posted by spicynuts at 3:04 PM on September 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


I had a brain fart. I meant to say rectify, but ramify came out for whatever reason. My apologies.
posted by reenum at 3:07 PM on September 23, 2009


Surely over two hundred years?
posted by biffa at 3:11 PM on September 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


Newspapers need to adapt to new markets. For instance, there's a fish market not far from the NY Times.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 3:21 PM on September 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


It's an interesting article, but there some holes in it.

1. Top-tier papers like the NYT, for all their faults, are necessary to the USA as a whole, and this article discusses their situations. I live in a secondary market that could never sustain a paper of the NYT's caliber. I've watched over the years as our local paper has gone from being merely bad to becoming a laughingstock—so slim and so vacuous that it's more of a news pamphlet. I am reasonably confident that the NYT will endure, the article doesn't address the problem of newspapers in smaller cities—which are just as necessary to the civic health of those cities. As things stand today, one can probably get better original reporting (not to mention more and better commentary) from a handful of local blogs.

2. The article discusses traditional papers, and then it goes off and discusses non-traditional outlets like TPM, non-profits, etc. It doesn't spend much time on how the gap between a non-profit newsgathering organization and an incumbent newspaper might be bridged. My own guess is that the big shakeup has yet to occur, and that will be the balkanization of news-gathering, editorial, and news-delivery functions. What forms that will take, who the major players will be at each level, and what connections will exist between them will be the interesting part.
posted by adamrice at 3:22 PM on September 23, 2009


Apparently one of the tactics to save the newspapers is to fill them up with enormous stem-winders, these doom-laden articles about how badly the industry is doing financially, and how the very notions of a newspaper, traditional journalism, editors, fact-checkers u.s.w are all but doomed. Much woolgathering from the over-examined omphalos; much less attention on what's right outside the door. How's that working out?
posted by chavenet at 3:25 PM on September 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


This is a good article so far (about half-way through, the nonprofit stuff is neat) but newspapers really need to understand the internet better at the management/owner level. Because geeze oh man, if they had only paid attention to the internet back in like 2002, they'd be in a hell of a lot better shape at the moment (not saying much).

For example, "pay for content" does not work in about 95% of the situations. Period. I can get most movies before they're even released in theaters, and you think you'll be able to keep your text hidden from anyone who doesn't pay 9.95 a month to use your buggy, proprietary service? Media conglomerates of all types need to get this through their heads. There was a time when you could push through a subscription increase or a daily rate hike and probably not lose a reader. But now? If you so much as change your page design to have even a single slightly annoying advertisement, I will never ever ever visit your site again. Which is not to say that I'll never pay for content. But now, the roles are reversed. Instead of the burden being on the customer ("Where else are you going to get the news?") it's squarely on the shoulders of the outlet ("Why should I give money to your site?").

Hell, I'll even pay more now than I used to, but your site better be worth every penny for me to make that investment. And so far, the only two major news outlets that come even close to this are (admittedly) the NYTimes and the BBC. But they've both got a long way to go. Some of the difficult is the still-changing technology, but hey, cry me a river, I'm in control now, and if you want my money, you better show up to my house dressed to kill and feed me grapes as I lounge by the poolside.

It's really just a change in attitude, I'd assert, and it starts from talking to people under 30ish about how they use the internet, because that's how everyone will eventually use the internet, or at least, how most people will try to. But they were clueless and arrogant when the internet first started getting big, and they mostly remain the same way now. Remember when the LA Times, back in the summer of 2005, made a thing called Wikitorial? Where they had an editorial that anyone could edit? And they were so proud of it? And then, wow, get this: it was overrun by anonymous vandals posting goatse? And they had to take it down out of profound embarrassment?

A lone internet-culture oriented college student could have told them exactly what would happen, probably down to the very picture that would be used to ruin the whole thing. There were tons of such employees and interns throughout the building, in every department. (Trust me, I was one.) But who was consulted? The "hip" columnists who had just discovered Red Bull and The Grey Album.

This is just one example of the many, many blunders that the news industry has made with the internet, and they're still happening today (ex: recent demands for Google to remove different papers from Google News, met with Google telling them how not to be indexed). So my general solution to the new horizon for news is: fucking learn internet, newsroom managers/newspaper owners. Because every day that you guys remain embarrassingly ignorant and still try to bend reality as we know it, more fantastic reporters/editors/researchers get fired.
posted by Damn That Television at 3:26 PM on September 23, 2009 [7 favorites]


My guess:

Seattle Daily News, Brought to you by Microsoft
Detroit Weekly, Brought to you by Ford
Tallahassee Journal, Brought to you by Tropicana
Phoenix Sun Times, Brought to you by Insert Other Corporate Entity here
posted by spicynuts at 3:27 PM on September 23, 2009


Well I'm actually stumped by our local paper's behaviour. It's typical dead tree circulation price is $1.30. The digital edition is $2.50, $3.50 on Saturday. $15 for a weekly digital edition! So they they don't have to print it or deliver it and they want me to pay double for it?

If they charged $6/week (a modest discount over the newsstand price) I'd signup. But instead it's highway robbery and I decide to not bother.
posted by Talez at 3:34 PM on September 23, 2009


Newspapers aren't being "undermined." They're being overmined.
posted by Faze at 3:43 PM on September 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


The newspapers desperately need to admit the obvious: people paying to read News have never paid their bills. People paying to read Sports, Comics, Stock Quotes, Movie Listings, and ADS, the classified ads for job listings, real estate and cars for sale, the big glossy department store ads for old-style department stores, the grocery coupons. I don't know the exact breakdown, but I'll bet more people have bought a paper for some kind of ad than for news. And that was the cash cow that meant they could afford to do serious journalism. If the newspaper had been split up on a 'pay for what you use' basis years ago, the journalism would have disappeared by now. Journalism needs to hook up to some other cash cow to pay for what news can never earn on its own, but what? That is one tough puzzle...
posted by wendell at 3:46 PM on September 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


Rammstein
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 3:47 PM on September 23, 2009 [2 favorites]


Here in the UK today we've had reports of immigrants being expelled from France under the headline "Keep out, Britain is full"; ranting about the evil EU in relation to the upcoming Irish referendum on the topic; not to mention endless bloviating about a Government minister who unknowingly employed an illegal immigrant. Of course, the reason we have laws that criminalise employers in that way is because the right-wing press runs scaremongering stories about immigration with titles like "Keep out, Britain is full", but the press, with no memory or sense of shame, were attacking her both for breaking the law and for creating too many pointless laws.

Sometimes I think the final death of print journalism in the UK can't come soon enough.
posted by athenian at 3:50 PM on September 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


Newspapers have been an institution for over a hundred years about 2,000 years.
posted by not_the_water at 3:52 PM on September 23, 2009


I am not impressed with the current state of newspapers in this country, with a few exceptions. My local paper is owned by people who do not care at all about local news, politics, people. They are slow and cumbersome and resistant to change. When I wanted to place a classified ad, it took 4 days in advance, a large payment, and they used to screw up the billing routinely.

Local bloggers are emerging, and local internet news sites will emerge and will grow into the role. If Matt can make a living running metafilter, and Craig can make a killing with craigslist, then sooner or later, somebody will figure out that good reporting and good writing will sell ads. I don't need revolving icons, new webdesigns every year, or annoying popups. I need web localization to get good enough to deliver the ads for furniture stores in my town, and coupons for the ice cream place, and movie listings, etc. I'll turn off adblocking, if they'll stop pushing giant animated ads at me.

It's going to evolve, if we let it, and if we support local providers of quality news, in whatever format we can find it. And if we keep the web open.
posted by theora55 at 3:59 PM on September 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


Well I'm actually stumped by our local paper's behaviour. It's typical dead tree circulation price is $1.30. The digital edition is $2.50, $3.50 on Saturday. $15 for a weekly digital edition! So they they don't have to print it or deliver it and they want me to pay double for it?

It's a "pay for convenience" model. A hotel's food delivered to your door is more expensive than going to the hotel's restaurant, is more expensive than one outside.

The real question is, does $15/week pay for itself in news, information, or entertainment?
posted by shavenwarthog at 4:20 PM on September 23, 2009


A lot longer than a hundred years.
posted by absalom at 4:25 PM on September 23, 2009


Ramenify? Mmmmmmm.
posted by blue_beetle at 4:44 PM on September 23, 2009


Y’know, this talk of evolving markets, changing demographics, teh internets, always struck me as crap. People want news. Other people want to go find and write the news. Most of them are willing to pay something for it, straight cash, attention time on advertising, whatever.
What, then, is the problem?
It’s the middle men. The suits. The business guys.

I mean, why are there so few auto parts makers/stores/etc? I look through a Jeep catalog – no problem, but I want to get something for my wife’s car, suddenly it’s a f’ing desert. Why? I can’t fly TWA anywhere, why? I’d like to go shopping at Revco, oh, wait. Maybe I’ll pick up some Uniroyal tires.

Only reason most (major) newspapers fail is because of this same leveraged asset debt piling on bullshit.
Now that sucks generally (Blue Horseshoe loves Anacot steel), but why would newspapers be so different from other companies when some of them have made enough profit to weather the predatory takeovers.
Why? Well, think about it – if you go into a car company and cut labor, you still have the car-making machines and so you can continue, perhaps hampered but it can go on, with production.
So maybe just maybe you can get away with the Blue Star airline schtick, fire everyone who makes a good wage, hire some newbies for cheap, and cover the huge debt load you’ve saddled on the poor bastards.

Do that with a newspaper. Oh, wait, you mean the machines producing ‘news’ - the product - aren’t the big inky rolling presses, but some guy sitting in some city council meeting or keeping an eye on the cops. Labor. Uh oh. Now what?
Pfft. Cut labor anyway. I just don't have enough goddamn money.
Well, reporting quality goes to hell, so you make less money. So the paper can’t cover the debt you’ve put on it. So it fails.

Big f’ing surprise. But no, that can’t be the real problem – business to blame? No, way, can't be their fault. It’s got to be because journalists are stupid and lazy (just like teachers). Or people are changing. Or bloggers. Plus it's obsolete. Or something.
posted by Smedleyman at 5:13 PM on September 23, 2009 [4 favorites]


"I had a brain fart. I meant to say rectify, but ramify came out for whatever reason."

Isn't that a brain shart? I think a brainfart is when you make a bad decision.
posted by autodidact at 5:54 PM on September 23, 2009


A Curious Snag In Debt-For-Equity Restructurings As Goldman And JPM Do A Stealthy Roll Up Of The Media Industry
posted by HP LaserJet P10006 at 6:05 PM on September 23, 2009


You've reminded me to cancel my Chicago Tribune subscription. Thanks, it's amazing how easy it is to just let that slide on memories and inertia.
posted by a robot made out of meat at 6:18 PM on September 23, 2009


Once again, Clay Shirky. Via Ethan Zuckerman.


somebody will figure out that good reporting and good writing will sell ads


I don't see why. Most people either actively block or are naturally blind to ads. And unlike with papers and old-school broadcast which created natural local monopolies, the internet is one perfect market, with millions of site competing for attention. Therefore millions of places to sell ads. Internet ads make about 10% of what print ads do; there's no reason to think they'll rise to print ad levels, ever. And so it will be very hard to pay for good reporting, because good, interesting reporting involves an awful lot of research before any sort of content is produced.
posted by Diablevert at 6:28 PM on September 23, 2009


1. Top-tier papers like the NYT, for all their faults, are necessary to the USA as a whole, and this article discusses their situations.
Let me guess, you read that in a newspaper? Whatever would we do without Judy Miller?
This is a good article so far (about half-way through, the nonprofit stuff is neat) but newspapers really need to understand the internet better at the management/owner level. Because geeze oh man, if they had only paid attention to the internet back in like 2002, they'd be in a hell of a lot better shape at the moment (not saying much).
Heh. They knew about it. Their main worry was about people pirating their content. They had no idea people could just create or their own, or synthesize their own, or just paraphrase them.

Everyone thinks their own job or industry is totally necessary for the survival of the U.S, the only difference between the newspapers and the auto companies is that the newspapers have access to a huge megaphone to project their fears to everyone else.
I don't see why. Most people either actively block or are naturally blind to ads.
That must be why Google's market cap is $157 billion.
posted by delmoi at 7:02 PM on September 23, 2009


That must be why Google's market cap is $157 billion.

I could have been more clear. I meant of course, display advertising. See, for instance, Jakob Neilsen's work on banner blindness.

Keyword advertising, google's domain, is a very different thing. I would argue that a brief examination of the differences between the two strengthens my point. The old model was: Allright, we got their attention, now you show 'em the ads. When you pay for a paper ad, your product is exposed to hundreds of thousands of readers, and you hope that in there somewhere among them are your customers.

With a keyword ad, pretty much everyone who sees it is actively looking for your product. They're halfway to purchasing already. It's the difference between a needle in a haystack and the one on a compass. If you were an advertiser, which ad would you rather spend money on?

Not to mention the fact that web ads disclose their own ineffectiveness through metrics; before all you had was the circulation number and your own sales figures, and judging how effective the campaign was was a matter of art. Now you know, instantly and exactly, how many people clicked, and how many of the clickers bought. And ad prices have fallen accordingly.
posted by Diablevert at 8:16 PM on September 23, 2009


"I've watched over the years as our local paper has gone from being merely bad to becoming a laughingstock"

Funny, I've watched the Times and the Post do exactly the same thing.
posted by bardic at 8:50 PM on September 23, 2009


They had no idea people could just create or their own, or synthesize their own, or just paraphrase them
Let me guess, you read or perhaps wrote this on a blog? Whatever would we do without wishful thinking from mostly scalp-free online boosterists?

That must be why Google's market cap is $157 billion.
Google's income from hocking ad space is a fraction of the US newspaper industry's. Even in its parlous state, newsprint is still earning chockloads more than the biggest, baddest game in online-town. Those corps have some disgusting margins that could do with being eroded, but even setting them aside, there just isn't enough money in the much more competitive space online to subsidise the stupidly costly business of real news. Which is why we're seeing so little of it.
posted by fightorflight at 10:34 PM on September 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


Our "local" paper is the Baltimore Sun, and it's generally regarded as terrible. Circulation is steadily falling, they've tried a free alternative with "user generated content" which mostly feels like a grown up version of the Weekly Reader, but with happy hour listings. The Sun tries to be a national/statewide paper, with a few local stories. But like the local evening news, they run down the list of murders in the city, then go on to stories about some urchin out in the County who's raising money for retired racehorses. Not much news there really.

On the other hand, the county paper where my parents live is doing great. They cover city and county council business, local sports, fishing spots, etc. They seem to have a lot more actual news than the statewide paper.

I'm curious as to whether the troubles of newspapers of late is that there's too many papers reporting national news, but not enough reporting local news.
posted by electroboy at 6:56 AM on September 24, 2009 [1 favorite]


Let me guess, you read that in a newspaper?

I must have, since I am apparently incapable of forming opinions on my own.
posted by adamrice at 7:48 AM on September 24, 2009


I'm curious as to whether the troubles of newspapers of late is that there's too many papers reporting national news, but not enough reporting local news.


My hometown had a blog that wasn't much more than a feed of the police scanner and quick notes about anthing interesting they heard over it, supplemented by submissions of minor local news and whatnot. It shut down this week because it was wildly popular and thus took too much time to maintain.

That idea, combined with something like EveryBlock, might well be the actual future of news. It's obviously important to have some sort of coverage of national affairs, but in terms of things that impact my daily life, it's much more important to know what just happened outside my window that sounded like a car crash or what restaurants just opened a few blocks away.
posted by Copronymus at 8:15 AM on September 24, 2009


now under threat of being undermined by the Internet and other sources.

Now? Now as in five years ago? To be fair, five years ago, I still thought the New York Times was a credible paper and didn't question what it reported so much, but I wasn't in my thirties and was just plain excited about being an adult. I still like reading the Times, and maybe it's because I'm in my thirties now, but I don't trust the Times or CNN or any other newspapers (or their internet editions) for analysis. There are far too many trend pieces (something that Metafilter posters have pointed out repeatedly) in the NYTimes that have no real substance.

I don't believe what I read on the Internet either. I'm just a lot more skeptical and more willing to let someone know how ignorant I am when discussing something I would have to rely on a newspaper reporter's insight for (especially science journalism, which is often riddled with errors).

One more thing: Blame the journalists. Journalists are just a whole different animal. They want branding, book deals, publicity, pundit jobs on tv, fancy friends in high places (this affects the quality of their reporting) etc. Even the print journalists want to be paid like they're Katie Couric, and that's a big problem. But you can't have a newspaper without journalists, but the journalist's ambitions help undermine the newspapers.

I don't know. Maybe I'm wrong.
posted by anniecat at 11:15 AM on September 24, 2009


delmoi: 1. Top-tier papers like the NYT, for all their faults, are necessary to the USA as a whole, and this article discusses their situations.
Let me guess, you read that in a newspaper? Whatever would we do without Judy Miller?


So just because Judith Miller and Bob Novak and – here in the UK – David Aaronovitch and Nick Cohen, and their respective editors, were mendacious, cheerleading thugs for war with suspicious motives, ties and ethics, we should just abandon the idea of the Fourth Estate altogether? Really? That's not what I want, and I suspect it's not really what you want either, snark notwithstanding.

Generations of union members fought their entire working lives – and enough of them literally gave their lives – in order for people to enjoy the rights and benefits due to them for being suppliers of labour. The past 30 years has seen their corporate employers, ghouls with dollar signs for eyes to a man (and woman) whine and piss and moan that such rights and benefits are some sort of undue burden on them, and not, I don't know, a rightful fucking part of the social contract which allows them to turn a profit from that labour, and said rights have been destroyed accordingly, helped along by a financial sector driven by dick-swinging, mergers, monopolies, consolidation, and asset-stripping.

These selfsame corporate vultures have spent the same past three decades buying up, consolidating and asset-stripping another resource: an international, interconnected network of highly experienced professionals, with literally thousands of years of experience between them, who work as journalists and editors, and who, when they do their job properly, can hold such corporate entities' feet to the fire in a way that the politicians whose campaigns are fat with corporate contributions will not.

These two similar sets of scenarios are not, by the way, unconnected. You want to see the an atrophying of the power of proper journalism? Welcome to Berlusconi's Italy, or to a future where Rupert Murdoch's toxic spew of fearmongering bullshit masquerading as fact has double the pernicious influence it has currently, and where what few rights ordinary people have left when it comes to working conditions, decent educations for their children, anything approaching health care, and a chance to properly engage with and participate in the democratic process are all but wiped away by the kind of corporate oligarchy currently running Russia.

I'm in the UK. Act of interventionist God with socialist leanings notwithstanding, in nine months the UK is once again going to have a Tory government, for the first time in 13 years. The last time this happened, said government waged war on the working classes, pared non-defence spending down to the bloody bone, deregulated the finance sector, sold off the post-war-consensus welfare state to their friends, left over 3 million unemployed, and were the ultimate cause of levels of rioting, social collapse and illegal state oppression and brutality not seen since the days when Victorian industrial barons called the shots. It is not going to be much prettier this time round. And one of the reasons why is that where once there was a properly independent media in the UK, the vast majority of it is in the hands of people like Rupert Murdoch, the Rothermere family (who own the Daily Mail group; they of the "Hurrah For The Blackshirts!" headlines of the 1930s, and not much more politically enlightened these days) and the Barclay twins, a ruthless pair of thin-lipped fascistic Christianist weirdos so secretive and paranoid that they try and take people to court on invasion of privacy grounds if they mention that the Barclays live on a private island in the Channel Islands.

A plurality of voices – big, loud voices, that is, and not just thousands of people posting on blogs, useful though that can be should it (i) gain enough momentum and (ii) be sufficiently unthreatening to the status quo to be invited by the corporate media to piss from inside the tent – is about the minimum condition required to hold these bastards to account.

So where does this leave us? Is every one of the major newspapers in the US and the UK now too far gone to be worth saving? I don't think so, but it's going to be a pretty horrible, bitter fight for them to keep their head above water, and as the more venal of their competitors descend further into lowest-common-denominator race-baiting, paranoia, and mouth-frothing insanity, the harder it's going to get (the harder it's already getting) for rational argument to be heard, let alone taken notice of.

The UK is, to some extent, in a better position thanks to the existence of the BBC (though what the incoming Tory government is going to do to the BBC I daren't think; they'd love nothing more than to cut its balls off and force-feed them to Jeremy Paxman live on Newsnight), but I thought the NYRB piece had some good ideas: the NPR/local news thing sounds like a fantastic idea, if the funds can be got together. A network of local nodes sharing content as and when needed, with everyone helping fund everyone else, and with genuine local experience and knowledge, could do much good. Endowments sound superficially advantageous, but, for reasons the article enumerated, have problems of their own – though a couple of well-backed folk seem to be making a good go at it.

The likeliest way for any aspiring media mogul to make a proper fist of profitable, online news in the next decade or so will be to fund newsgathering via a mostly-unrelated but hugely profitable web-based business which can, at the same time, be partially integrated with the reading of the news. If someone smart had bought eBay and built it up for this purpose 15 years ago, they'd have been on to the right idea. Because that is the kind of revenue – large, extremely large – needed to properly back good journalism. It's also, importantly, the kind of revenue-generating mechanism which can, for not a great deal of extra outlay, be targeted either nationally (or internationally, for that matter) or to a microscopically local degree, and would therefore be a perfect fit for the kind of news operation which served its readers up a customisable mix of local (for your value of local), national and international news, all without the need to go anywhere near lying sacks of festering, power-cosy shit like Judith Miller, or whichever cretinous, foaming lunatic is currently calling Obama a watermelon-distributing Nazi witch-doctor on Fox News this week.

anniecat: One more thing: Blame the journalists. Journalists are just a whole different animal. They want branding, book deals, publicity, pundit jobs on tv, fancy friends in high places (this affects the quality of their reporting) etc. Even the print journalists want to be paid like they're Katie Couric, and that's a big problem. But you can't have a newspaper without journalists, but the journalist's ambitions help undermine the newspapers.

I don't know. Maybe I'm wrong.


Katie Couric, in this case, is as wild a statistical outlier as you're likely to get – according to the CJR piece you linked, this is a woman whose annual salary, at $15million, is $4million more than the total budget for NPR's two flagship shows combined. And however much the TV may be increasingly stuffed with pundits with book deals, publicity whores, controversy addicts, blowhard columnists and the kind of idiots who write hand-wringing features about how difficult it is to bring your kids up in London/NYC (delete as applicable according to country) when you're struggling by on 500k a year and the nanny has just asked for an extra 50p an hour, here's the truth: the vast majority of journalists – the ones who do the real grunt work of turning up to local council meetings, digging into stories no-one else has the nose for, and then pushing those stories hard when they get somewhere – have no interest in that shit. And their average salary? I'm not sure about the US, but here's the situation in the UK, according to this site:
Your starting salary as a trainee reporter on a local/regional paper could be as low as £10,000, but you should expect rises of £2,000 to £3,000 as you progress through your training period. Starting salaries for postgraduate trainees on a national paper are higher and range upwards from £14,000. The average salary for all journalists is £22,500 but that conceals considerable variation: the average salary for staff on national newspapers is £40,000 and on regional papers £17,500.
Are journalists ambitious in as far as they want their salary to be better? Well, yes. (In fact, I think plenty of them would settle for it being the same, adjusted for inflation, as it used to be 20 or 30 years ago, which would pretty much double the numbers quoted above.) But the vast – almost the entire – majority of them are not demanding the GDP of small African states in order to turn up to work in the morning. And as for ambition, it's the aforementioned grunt work and dogged adherence to stories which is driven by that, and which drives the quality of the newspapers they work for.
posted by Len at 8:12 AM on September 25, 2009 [2 favorites]


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