By JULIE REYNOLDS
In my first week at a new reporting job in 2004, I received a shock while covering a city council meeting in Pacific Grove, California. The city was unveiling a proposed low-income housing plan. The stunning part came when I realized I actually qualified under the salary my newspaper was paying me. I, a college-educated professional working full time, was officially “low income.”
Things haven’t gotten any better for my colleagues in the news business.
A new report by an online rental listing service says that as journalists’ wages have fallen, rents have “increased steadily.” The report, published in the “Rentonomics” section of ApartmentList.com, looked at 10 years of Bureau of Labor Statistics and U.S. Census data, from 2005-2015.
“We found that rents increased more than journalist salaries in nearly 80% of the largest U.S. metros,” Andrew Woo said in an emailed statement.
The report also notes that across the U.S., “journalist salaries fell 7 percent while rents rose 9 percent. Rents rose faster than incomes in nearly 80 percent of the metros we studied.”
This is why we Digital First Media workers are organizing to fight for a living wage, and why we united last week with news workers at GateHouse Media in a national day of action marking World Press Freedom Day. Together, these news chains represent a large swath of American’s small and medium-sized towns and cities.
As the Rentonomics report points out, journalist wages have not stagnated in the last 10 years — they’ve gone down. I suspect this is because more seasoned reporters have been laid off and replaced with younger, lower paid workers. Workloads have doubled and tripled during this time as the hedge fund owners of these two national newspaper chains continue to gut their newsrooms in search of ever more profits.
There is no press freedom if no one can afford to do the job of reporting. Please join with us and sign our petition to protect the right of journalists to report the news in your community, as well as your right to be informed.
Sign the petition at RightToReport.com.
To read the Rentonomics report and use their interactive map, click here.