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Bits and Pieces


The median annual salary for "experienced reporters" working at newspapers with more than 250,000 daily circulation -- the 40 largest papers in the country -- was about $56,000 last year, according to a newspaper industry study. Pay for "senior reporters" -- and for top reporters and editors at the largest of these papers -- is substantially more. But median income for all U.S. workers over 15 is about $31,500.

In other words, many big-city journalists -- especially those who set the agenda for what gets covered in the rest of the media -- have moved away from much of the largely middle- and working-class audience they purport to serve. At best, they're out of touch. At worst, they've become elitists.

The natural sympathy that most journalists feel for the underdog and for the downtrodden prevents the media from ignoring the poor. The fascination that the American public has with the rich and famous prevents the media from ignoring the upper strata of society. But newspapers seldom write about the middle class, the working class -- white- or blue-collar.

"We don't write about them because we no longer live like them," says Martin Baron, editor of the Boston Globe. "We live in other neighborhoods, and we don't visit theirs. And I fear that there is a subtle disdain for their lives, their lifestyles, their material and spiritual aspirations."

-- From the Los Angeles Times, 12-8-02: "Journalists losing touch with the man on the street," by David Shaw


"People talk all the time in the newspaper business about connecting with readers, and newspaper executives hire consultants who spend thousands of dollars to organize focus groups to tell us that Joe Six-Pack doesn't have time to read the paper because he has to mow the lawn. Richard Ben Cramer (of the Baltimore Sun) asks a simple question: Why don't those executives see to it that their newspaper includes some stories that would give Mr. Six-Pack an excuse not to mow his lawn?"

-- Ken Fuson, Des Moines Register, writing in "The Journalist's Craft: A Guide to Writing Better Stories, edited by Dennis Jackson and John Sweeney, 2002, Allworth Press


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