Oh, the wailing!A year or two ago, you couldn’t spend five minutes online without seeing some mainstream media scribe bemoaning the death of journalism and the high-paying, cushy old jobs that went with it.
Soon, this sob story went, every real journalist was going to get canned, and the world was going to hell in a handbasket.
Well, a funny thing happened on the way to the funeral!
Now, with the rise of successful, well-funded online sites like Huffington Post and Daily Beast, the journalism profession–and journalist compensation–is getting a huge shot in the arm.
Because as sites like Huffington Post and Daily Beast begin to make the jump to mainstream media themselves, they’re doing it in part by poaching big-name journalists from the publications they want to crush.
Daily Beast just hired legendary Washington Post columnist Howard Kurtz, for example. And Huffington Post just picked off two big-timers from the New York Times editors, reporter Peter Goodman and editor Tim O’Brien.
And if industry scuttlebutt is even remotely correct, they paid huge dollars to do it.
The figures we’ve heard–which for understandable reasons are causing jaws to drop all around the New York Times and other mainstream media newsrooms–are as follows:
Howard Kurtz (Daily Beast): $600,000 a year
Tim O’Brien (Huffington Post): $400,000 a year
Peter Goodman (Huffington Post): $300,000 a year
Now, of course, when we heard these numbers–which came from flabbergasted MSMers–we reached out to folks who know to ask whether they were accurate or not. The rumoured Howard Kurtz figure, one source with knowledge of the situation told us, is “laughable.” But the source refused to comment on our alternate estimate of “$450,000?”.
The folks who know whether the figures for Tim and Peter are accurate, meanwhile, knew better than to comment at all.
So we don’t know whether these numbers are accurate, and they may well be wildly-inflated figments of remaining mainstream-media staffers’ hyper-active imaginations.
But, on the other hand, we imagine that it would have taken SOME major incentive to get Howard, Tim, and Peter to leap from their prestigious MSM perches into a world that many of their mainstream media brethren still regard as a cesspool of parasites and “scrapers.” And Howard, Tim, and Peter have been around a long time, with lots of benefits and pension-credits and so forth. So we would not be surprised if the numbers were at least in the ballpark.
(And for all we know, they’re low: One MSMer insists that Tim’s contract at Huffpo is not $400,000 a year, but $500,000 a year, with a two-year guarantee).
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In any event…it seems that the “death of journalism and journalists” meme was a bit exaggerated. In fact, thanks to the unique skills and talents required for success in the online medium, as well as competition from upstart news organisations with massive growth and boatloads of cash, we may be entering a new golden age of journalism, in which the most-talented digital journalists can make way more than their print counterparts ever dreamed of.This, in fact, would make sense: The online medium is a conversational medium, halfway between print and broadcast journalism. As such, it seems to create not only talented rank-and-file reporters and editors but a handful of star commentators and columnists–in the same way that TV and radio do. And as in other media, it makes sense that those stars will one day be paid their weight in gold.
So, buck up, online journalists! If Howard and Tim and Peter are making even a fraction of what their fellow MSMers think they’re making, your future is bright!
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