Monday, September 24, 2007

Instructive Graph 

Journalism has always been ill-paid by comparison to other jobs. It remains so, apparently. One doesn't go into journalism to make money. One goes into the business "to save the world" as a former reporter and colleague says. This is why journalists and PR practitioners often don't speak the same language. Their assumptions are different. A PR practitioner will approach a topic with economics in mind. A journalist will approach the same topic with fairness as a guide. Their conclusions might be quite different.

We have to be broad-minded enough to see an issue from a journalist's perspective and to explain it to managers who have been trained for decades that the profit motive is the driving force in society. If journalists were paid better, that might not be the case, but they haven't been in the history of journalism, and they aren't likely to be. They have experienced the hypocrisy of American business, a failing I clearly recall from my brief time as a reporter. I used to say publishers would defend the right of Free Speech in every instance except the one in which a reporter asked for a raise. Their response then was that there were thousands of others out there waiting to take the reporter's job.

Pay scales are a useful reminder that some essential skills in society are ill-paid. It isn't always about money, and it never has been. If it were, we wouldn't have the media, teachers or government workers, to name a few.


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