Wannabe Reporters: 9.50 an hour!
That is less than the $10 an hour that In N Out burger advertises as its starting salary. And boy do I love a good In N Out burger animal style with X L and X T with fries and a Neapolitan shake. But the fact you can make more working there, than you can with a degree from UC Berkeley as a first time reporter sort of blows my mind. Just a little.
One of my former interns is considering a job in a blue state in middle America, one where they don't do live shots and they one man band. Meaning they produce, shoot and edit their own stories. No photographer to help. For 9.50 an hour. That is the reality of TV reporting these days, kids. High supply, low demand. Fewer jobs than ever, and higher expectations. Do more with less.
I currently have 4 interns who are aspiring TV reporters or on-camera talent. I am not at all trying to torpedo anyone's dreams but ever since I met the Harvard educated lawyer husband of my equally brilliant friend and former TV type, he put things in a different perspective. He said he advises young folks brimming with vim and vigor to go for the career or job that pays the most. Because at some point, no matter how much you love your work, it will become work. A place you go or thing you do because you have to. I mean, obviously, it's not a bad job to be Kim Kardashian and have 2,774,281 people following your ass on Twitter, figuratively, and in The Good Doctor's case, literally. But that's sort of a different stratosphere of "work" so let's go back to the basic normal world in which most of us live. Work is something you do so you can enjoy the rest of your life. And hopefully it's a great way to spend a big chunk of your day, but don't even lie and tell me you don't love your days off. Don't even go there, Pinocchio. We all love our vacation days and our weekends and our holidays and the days when we can goof and find sexy dresses half off and an additional 30% off that at BCBG. Why yes I did do that this weekend.
So Harvard lawyer friend says this and it seems all cynical and anti-idealistic and soul-killing, but there's a real nugget of truth there. Mo' money doesn't always equal mo' problems.
But 9.50 an hour. That could definitely make some mo' problems if you aren't ready to join the ranks of the working poor while working your ass off. Which may or may not be as nice as Kim Kardashian's. God love the aspiring reporter though. I was one 10 years ago. And I almost took that job at ABC in Sioux City, Iowa. For $18,500. A YEAR!!! That was Y2K. I mean it was not like 1950. And even if you adjust that for inflation and factor in the COLA, that is still a depressingly ridiculously low amount of money for an annual salary. My parents' friends were shaking their heads, "And she was valedictorian? Tsk Tsk."
But then my news fairy godmother came along. And hired me for $26K a year to work as a one man band at Central Florida News 13. Plus moving costs! I said yes ma'am to that job, packed my bags, and pitted out in the balmy Orlando outdoors for the next year and 9 months.
So much has changed in TV news in a decade. But salaries somehow have managed to stay the same or go lower. Wiki How helped me with my calculation. The $18,500 Sioux City job I almost took would've paid me $8.90 an hour. And in 2010, one of my fearless former interns is considering a job for .60 more per hour.
What the douche? It's my new WTF.