Broadcast journalism, the television or radio coverage of news and current events -- as an industry is not looking overly bright. From 2010 to 2020, the industry as a whole is expected to experience an 8 percent decline in employment -- at least this is the projection from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Inevitably, the decline in job opportunities has a direct effect on earnings. With more talent than available jobs, broadcast journalists just starting out don’t necessarily command high salaries.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics cites the average annual salary of a journalist at $43,640 as of 2011. But being a national average, high salaries can throw off this figure. For this reason, median wage is a better predictor of a journalist’s wage. Roughly half of all journalists make $34,870 a year or less, while 25 percent earn no more than $25,720 annually. None of these figures, however, factor in experience, nor do they differentiate between print journalism and broadcast journalism.
Of all forms of broadcast journalism, television has the highest profile, but doesn’t necessarily pay as much as you might think. A television reporter, for example, earns an average of $38,800 a year as of 2011. Starting salaries, on the other hand, are closer to $23,300 a year, as revealed in a survey by the Radio Television Digital News Association. Sports reporters earn a little less than this, averaging just $20,600 to start. News anchors, surprisingly, aren’t the highest paid on-air talent, earning an average of $22,700 a year, the association survey revealed.
Starting salaries in radio aren’t much better than that of television. The survey by the Radio Television Digital News Association found that radio news reporters averaged $25,100 a year. Those reporting on general events, usually more human-interest oriented, earned $25,200 -- $100 more a year than their news colleagues.
Not all broadcast journalists are found in front of the camera -- or behind the mic, for that matter. In fact, working “behind the scenes” is often more lucrative when it comes to starting out in broadcast journalism. As of 2011, a news writer averaged a starting salary of $28,800 a year. Assignment editors start out at $27,300 a year, while news producers earned an average of $24,700 a year. Tape editors made $23,800 a year — $500 more than an on-air news reporter just starting out in the business.