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Starting Salary for a Journalist

Growth Trends for Related Jobs

If you enjoy writing, reporting and people, a career in journalism could be right up your alley. A journalist's starting salary often depends on the type of publication or broadcast company you work for as well as economic factors that affect the industry. Journalists work for a wide range of publishers and producers who create content for newspapers, magazines, radio and television stations and online content providers. Some journalists have an entrepreneurial spirit and work as freelance writers. Increased demand for online news and podcasts has helped offset a decline in demand for printed news and live correspondence.

Read All About It

Entry-level journalists and experienced journalists research news stories and gather data to support their broadcasts, scripts and publications. You follow reliable leads, interview trusted sources and consult eyewitnesses to create well-developed, truthful and authoritative story. Fact-checking is an integral part of the job. The ability to present fair, balanced, truthful and nonbiased work is a hallmark of good journalism. You also might shoot photographs or videos to support your work.

Education and Experience Never Hurt

Some employers hire entry-level journalists who have a bachelor’s degree in journalism or communications, but those who have a well-rounded education, strong writing skills, the ability to intelligently compile and interpret data and good listening skills are also prime candidates. Courses in journalistic ethics, economics, political science, English and multimedia design help prepare you for entry-level roles in the profession. A journalism internship or previous work experience at a local or college newspaper, radio station or television station is a necessity. Employers expect to read, see or hear recorded clips of your work, so they can assess your skills and ability to connect with viewers or listeners. Entry-level journalists must meet key job requirements, such as have proficient computers skills, familiarity maneuvering around the web, strong social media skills, a determination to meet deadlines and the ability to create comprehensive, balanced and well-written stories.

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Salaries Provide a Starting Point

In 2013, the lowest 10 percent of reporters, correspondents and broadcast news analysts earned less than $20,770 per year, according to the US of Labor Statistics. The lowest 10 percent of authors and writers earned less than $27,770 per year. The BLS's lowest 10 percent typically reflects the bottom salary range for those just starting in the industry. The average salary for all reporters, correspondents and broadcast news analysts was $37,090. On average, journalists who worked for radio and television stations earned more than those who worked for newspaper and periodical publishers. Journalists who worked for social advocacy agencies had the highest reported annual mean wages.

Geographic Considerations

Geography plays an important role in starting salaries for entry-level journalists. For example, in 2014, the Democrat-News in Marshall, Missouri offered entry-level reporters a starting salary between $15,000 and $20,000 per year based on education and experience, according to JournalismJobs.com. The starting salary for entry-level news reporters in Florida was $32,000 per year, according to 2014 statistics on Indeed. An entry-level production assistant at iFIBER One News in Ephrata, Washington had a starting salary between $25,000 and $30,000, according to JournalismJobs. A starting salary for a reporter with the Hudson Valley weekly in Newburgh, New York earned $20,000 to $25,000 per year, according to the same site.

A Grim Outlook

Employment of reporters, correspondents and broadcast news analysts is expected to decline 13 percent from 2012 to 2022, according to the BLS. This is a sharp decline compared to the average job growth rate -- an 11 percent increase for all occupations through 2022. Subscribers to newspapers and periodicals are also projected to decline through 2022, negatively affecting the job outlook for journalists, news writers and editors. Decreasing revenues will force some news organizations to downsize and outsource their journalistic needs. California, New York, Florida, Texas and the District of Columbia had the highest employment levels in this profession, according to 2013 BLS data.

About the Author

As curriculum developer and educator, Kristine Tucker has enjoyed the plethora of English assignments she's read (and graded!) over the years. Her experiences as vice-president of an energy consulting firm have given her the opportunity to explore business writing and HR. Tucker has a BA and holds Ohio teaching credentials.

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