How Much Do Journalists Make?

Journalist job descriptionThere are many types of journalists – defined by the specific task that they do. There are news reporters, feature writers, investigative journalists, editors, and photojournalists. They may either work in a team of staff of a local, national, or international news organization, or work freelance and write or report on a per project basis.

Journalist Salary

How much do journalists make? The annual average journalist salary reported is $43,490, which is equivalent to $20.91 per hour of work. This means that journalists in the United States more or less earn this amount of income. The estimated number of working journalists is 50,400.

The journalists’ job is very fast paced, with many of them working nights, weekends, and even holidays. Given the nature of the profession, most journalists have tight deadlines and are often running after news stories to produce the latest breaking news.

Some journalists work freelance, which means their schedules are very flexible. Most feature writers are freelancers while news reporters work full time. Writers who work freelance may or may not provide their own fees while full-time writers have a fixed salary.

journalist salaryA journalist starting salary depends on the type of work he/she does, the organization he/she is working for, his/her educational attainment, experience, and level of skill.

Top 5 Paying States

FlagStateEmployment per 1000 JobsHourly mean wageAnnual mean wage
New York FlagNew York3.29$30.50$63,450
Rhode Island FlagRhode Island0.42$27.61$57,430
Georgia FlagGeorgia0.29$26.46$55,030
Massachusetts FlagMassachusetts 0.32$26.00$54,080
Louisiana FlagLouisiana0.27$25.89

Top Paying Industries

IndustryPercent of industry employmentHourly mean wageAnnual mean wage
Professional, Political, and Similar Organizations 0.01$36.64$76,210
Social Advocacy Organizations 0.07$35.91$74,680
Independent Artists, Writers, and Performers0.14$32.04$66,640
Cable and Other Subscription Programming0.51$30.66$63,780
Other Information Services1.83$30.42$63,270

Journalist Job Description

what do journalists doWhat do a journalists do? Basically, a journalist gathers information through a number of means such as observation, interview, and background research, and presents this information to readers or audiences through different forms of mass media.

Because just about anyone can present information through a media platform such as social media, professional journalists are defined as having employment that presents information as news and stories to readers and audiences of newspapers, magazines, TV, radio, and news organizations on the internet.

Among the duties of a journalist include researching stories through observation, interview, and background research; writing news and stories that are timely; shoot photographs and videos; editing stories to improve the work of others, correcting grammar errors, writing headlines, and making sure stories pertain to the publication or organization’s tone and style; checking facts, planning issues, and laying out pages.

Among the different types of journalists include:

Reporters – These journalists gather information and present them in writing or spoken form in news stories. Reporters can include feature writers who write long stories about a particular topic. News reporters present information in a timely manner to present the latest happenings in a locality, in a national, or international level. Feature writers’ stories do not need to be timely and can focus on a special niche such as reporting about lifestyle, personalities, and fashion.

Photojournalists – These journalists take photos with a reporter, take photos to support a story, or go to events on their own and take pictures to illustrate a story.

Editors – These journalists are the ones making the final decisions about what is included in the newspaper, radio, online publication, or TV show.

Investigative Journalists – These journalists are the ones that dig deeper into stories. They search for information that may be concealed or hidden, to present facts and stories that may have otherwise been buried or obscured.

Journalists Job Outlook

Because of the proliferation of mobile electronic devices that have easy access to the internet, more and more people aren’t buying hard copies of magazines and newspapers. In the next decade, it is projected that employment in the field of journalism is set to decline at 13%, with a total loss of jobs totaling to 7,200.

A continuing decrease in advertising revenue in radio, magazine, and newspaper publications will force news organizations to downsize, needing less journalists to work on stories. Advertising is the primary source of income for these organizations and with less and less of it, employment in the journalism profession will continue to decline.

However, journalists who are equipped with the skills in the latest technologies will have an advantage and enjoy better job prospects. Multimedia journalism experience such as website designing and coding is seen to be valuable in the next decade.

Journalist Salary by State

FlagStateEmployment per 1000 JobsHourly mean wageAnnual mean wage
Alabama FlagAlabama0.258$17.05$35,470
Alaska FlagAlaska0.324$22.42$46,630
Arizona FlagArizona0.306$20.45$42,530
Arkansas FlagArkansas0.321$14.57$30,300
California FlagCalifornia0.285$23.77$49,430
Colorado flagColorado0.305$21.63$45,000
Connecticut FlagConnecticut0.243$18.47$38,410
Delaware flagDelaware
Florida FlagFlorida0.312$20.47$42,570
Georgia FlagGeorgia0.317$26.46$55,030
Hawaii FlagHawaii0.219$24.09$50,110
Idaho FlagIdaho0.536$17.77$36,950
Illinois FlagIllinois0.285$22.25$46,280
Indiana FlagIndiana0.297$19.23$40,000
Iowa FlagIowa0.644$14.82$30,830
Kansas FlagKansas0.343$19.55$40,660
Kentucky FlagKentucky0.282$18.67$38,830
Louisiana FlagLouisiana0.278$25.89$53,860
Maine FlagMaine0.497$16.14$33,560
Maryland FlagMaryland0.242$23.05$47,950
Massachusetts FlagMassachusetts0.346$26.00$54,080
Michigan FlagMichigan0.254$19.51$40,570
Minnesota FlagMinnesota0.259$19.00$39,510
Mississippi FlagMississippi0.25$16.41$34,120
Missouri FlagMissouri0.266$16.24$33,770
Montana FlagMontana0.544$15.33$31,890
Nebraska FlagNebraska0.435$15.36$31,940
Nevada FlagNevada0.242$24.91$51,820
New Hampshire FlagNew Hampshire0.441$20.48$42,590
New Jersey FlagNew Jersey0.258$22.48$46,760
New Mexico FlagNew Mexico0.289$19.85$41,290
New York FlagNew York0.422$30.50$63,450
North Carolina FlagNorth Carolina0.275$18.61$38,710
North Dakota FlagNorth Dakota0.684$13.24$27,530
Ohio FlagOhio0.318$18.04$37,530
Oklahoma FlagOklahoma0.335$16.63$34,590
Oregon FlagOregon0.27$20.31$42,240
Pennsylvania FlagPennsylvania0.246$18.18$37,800
Rhode Island FlagRhode Island0.286$27.61$57,430
South Carolina FlagSouth Carolina0.243$18.65$38,800
South Dakota FlagSouth Dakota0.729$14.14$29,400
Tennessee FlagTennessee0.253$16.76$34,850
Texas FlagTexas0.19$20.80$43,260
Utah FlagUtah0.57$22.04$45,850
Vermont FlagVermont0.645$18.07$37,580
Virginia FlagVirginia$22.46$46,710
Washington FlagWashington0.254$19.05$39,610
West Virginia FlagWest Virginia0.439$14.71$30,600
Wisconsin FlagWisconsin0.311$16.72$34,780
Wyomin FlagWyoming0.633$14.21$29,550

Top paying metropolitan areas

AreaEmployment per 1000 jobsHourly mean wageAnnual mean wage
New York / White Plains / Wayne, – NY/NJ – Metropolitan Division 0.51$34.41$71,580
Washington / Arlington / Alexandria, – DC/VA/MD/WV – Metropolitan Division 1.08$34.02$70,760
Atlanta / Sandy Springs / Marietta, – GA 0.36$31.67$65,870
Las Vegas / Paradise, – NV 0.21$29.70$61,780
Boston / Cambridge / Quincy, – MA – NECTA Division 0.39$29.18$60,700

Top paying nonmetropolitan areas

AreaEmployment per 1000 jobsHourly mean wageAnnual mean wage
Northeast Maine – nonmetropolitan area 0.80$17.84$37,110
Kansas – nonmetropolitan area 0.45$17.67$36,750
South Florida – nonmetropolitan area 0.45$17.44$36,290
Northern Mountains – Region of California – nonmetropolitan area0.55$17.44$36,280
West Central Pennsylvania – nonmetropolitan area 0.47$16.40$34,110

Journalist Career Video

Noel Griffith, Ph.D.
Noel Griffith is a Doctor of Philosophy with a strong interest in educational research. He has been an editor-in-chief of since 2014. Noel is an avid reader (non-fiction), enjoys good food, live theatre, and helping others make wiser career decisions.

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