Two years after a newspaper closed, 67% of its journalists earn less

Two years after a newspaper closed, 67% of its journalists earn less

It’s two years since The Rocky Mountain News closed in Denver, Colorado, and the newspaper’s former editor, president and publisher John Temple has surveyed his former journalists to find out what they’re up to now. Rather depressingly, most of them are earning less than they did then.

146 of the paper’s 194 journalists responded to Temple’s survey which found that 67% of them now earn less than in their old job at the Rocky Mountain News, with 57% saying that they now earn “Much less” than in their old job.

92 respondents, or 63%, are still working as journalists and 64 of these are earning less now than in their old job. While the majority of those who have now left journalism also report receiving lower pay now, it’s still a depressing statistic that indicates that journalists appear willing to stay in their line of work despite the poor economic outlook for the profession.

Temple interviewed some of these former journalists, turning up quotes like “There have been very few days and nights and middle of the nights during the past two years when I have not worried about money” and “When I sometimes hear the normal everyday grumbling of my new colleagues, I wonder if they realize how fortunate they are to be working for a great organization making good money in the profession that we all love and how quickly that can be taken away if we are not mindful.”

However, it’s not all bad news – it appears that many of these journalists are actually a lot happier now, with more respondents saying that their lives were better than those who said it was worse.

Choice quotes:

  • “Even though I’m making less money than I did at the Rocky, I’m a happier person.”
  • “While the closure of the Rocky has not made my life easier, nor more comfortable, it has allowed me to put all my accumulated skills to use FOR MYSELF (as a sole proprietor) and for A GREATER GOOD (a community’s survival). In short, I am doing what I am supposed to be doing, where I am supposed to be doing it at a time that is critical for our community.”
  • “I like being my own boss, working from home, learning about the field of blogging, and generally being more entrepreneurial… although I do not make as much money as I did at the Rocky, hopefully that will change in 2011.”

So, there appears to be optimism and a positive outlook among many of those who took a financial hit but stuck to their journalistic guns. While this is reassuring to hear, I’m sure publishers looking to slash their staffing costs are feeling quite reassured by it too.

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