When I worked as a journalist, I had many people assume that because my name was “out there”, I was a — and a quote — a millionaire.
I always laughed because journalism was never the sort of job that paid well for the 99.9% in it.
You had a few US broadcasting anchors who were pulling in multi-million dollar salaries — but that would not represent a fraction of a percent of the total number of journalists working in the field.
Those few who did make that lofty sum served as bait for the rest who thought they would somehow grab that brass ring, too.
You never had millionaire anchors in Canada. You had a couple in Toronto who made an upper middle-class salary…but considering the expenses, many of those had other gigs, such as public speaking. Some anchors here got themselves in trouble a couple of years ago for their side gigs flat-out conflicting with their primary job.
You will rarely have a journalist who has just the one job. They will teach or do something else on the side to make ends meet.
It is a very poorly paying job.
But for decades, their owners made a pretty penny. You had Lord Thompson once quipping that owning a media property was like having a license to print money. They hoarded the dough, and suckered in the pigeons to work for next to nothing.
And sometimes those in the business worked for free.
Here is a Poynter article whining about how local news reporters are toiling for a less than a livable wage.
You just noticed this now?
And in another short piece in FTVLive, focusses on one young television reporter who was working for a local station, and living out of his car.
This has always been the reality of journalism. The minions are kept on tight leashes, underpaid, stressed, and abused — sometimes verbally, sometimes by means of sexual harassment.
You cannot expect “quality” journalism under any circumstances. That is willful childish illogic. Now that even the side gigs have dried up, reporters have now stooped to Fear and Pity Tours, and in Canada, begging the government for more lofty-sounding welfare checks.
At what point do we say a profession is done?
At what point do we say the model of journalism actually never worked? A few owners got rich because they had a monopoly on the information flow?
With countries like China wanting to have that monopoly on the Internet, it is hight time a Fifth medium come into play.
No one should have the monopoly on the dissemination of information — not robber barons, and not any government.
And no one should have the right to call themselves a journalist unless they are paid a fair and humane salary.
It should not be about bragging rights. It should be about doing your job well, and not shaking whether or not you can pay your utilities or whether you will be sleeping your car.
People never questioned the structure of journalism; they just believed what they heard, until they didn’t like what they were hearing, and then went staring at their selfies. We have a void right now.
And it is a void that gets bigger every day.