Finding a job as a reporter can be difficult. The competition is fierce, and the pay is generally low. Young journalists often earn less than public school teachers, and that pay disparity may continue for much of their career. Salaries can vary according to the region, the size of the news outlet and the medium.In general, larger news organizations tend to pay more than smaller ones, outlets in the Northeast and West Coast pay more than the South and Midwest.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary for journalists was $34,850 in 2008 -- compared to $51,100 for teachers. Half of all journalists made between $25,760 and $52,160. About 10 percent of journalists earned more than $77,000 per year. Newspaper reporters earned a median salary $33,430. Broadcast journalists earned a median salary of $37,710.
While median salaries for reporters working for broadcast outlets are similar, the top salaries for these outlets can vary significantly. According to a 2010 salary survey by the Radio Television Digital News Association, the median salaries for television and radio reporters were $29,000 and $30,000, respectively. But the top salary in the association's survey was $46,000 for radio journalists and $280,000 for television reporters. The top television anchor in the survey was paid $600,000, though the median salaries for anchors was $59,000.
The highest concentration of journalists can be found in Washington, D.C., where three of every 1,000 workers is a journalist. They also tend to earn the most. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, D.C. journalists earn approximately $74,950 annually. In New York, where many journalists cover U.S. financial markets, journalists earn an average salary of $60,390.
The life of a journalist can be quite similar to the life of a minor league baseball player. Journalists often start out working for low pay at small news outlets, sometimes in rural places. Success at one outlet can lead to opportunities at the next. Journalists may work at one or two newspapers before landing an interview at a large metropolitan paper. Those papers also tend to pay more.