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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