August 12, 2014 Last Updated 7:26 am

Pew finds that PR people are better paid than journalists (they always have been)

But then again, so are many professionals, so is it only that PR people make more money that has journalists up in arms?

The Pew Research Center reported yesterday that there is a “growing pay pay between journalism and public relations” – an odd thing to study, but an area that apparently has many journalists concerned.

FT_reporters_employeesAccording to Pew, the median income of PR specialists was $43,830 in 2004, but grew to $54,940 in 2013. Reporters, on the other hand, earned $31,320 in 2004, but their median income only grew to $35,600 in 2013. The information was derived from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Employment Statistics.

In the ’80s, the cry heard in the newsroom was often that the ad folks, and God forbid even the production staff, earned more than beat reporters. Of course, getting the reporters to attend a union meeting was like pulling teeth so few sympathized with their plight.

But the Pew report has been seen by many in journalism as saying something important about their trade, when really it merely reinforces something everyone already knows: the world of journalism is shrinking, which PR continues to grow. What Pew found in the stats was that there were 43,630 reporters in the U.S. in 2013, 8,920 less than in 2004. There are, of course, less newspapers, as well – and those still in existence have reduced the size of their newsrooms.

While journalists often go into PR as an alternative career choice, the reality is that journalists also pursue other career choices, as well. One could compare the salaries of teachers with reporters, or spokesmen with reporters, and it would be as good a comparison. But that PR people may, in general, make more income than reporters somehow gets under the skin of some in the news business.

What should concern journalists, instead, is the condition of their news organizations. Were reporters in a field of growing profits the income issue would be of less importance. The failure of incomes to keep up with inflation is related, one would guess, with the falling revenue and profits of the products journalists produce. Solve one problem and the other takes care of itself – at least in theory.

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