Hobnob with the big shots: As to upwardly mobile journalists hobnobbing with the bigshots, do you think Cronkite would have ever danced around a stage “rapping” with Karl Rove? I have seen some celebrity journalists roll their eyes when mentioning issues like making the tax system more progressive or getting us middle class types out of the health-care death spiral. I can’t possibly think this stuff comes our way unbiased and unfiltered. And while I completely and utterly concede that most journalists are likely very liberal when it comes to social issues like gay rights, it seems they are also more conservative in a self-interested sense, in terms of tax/health/fiscal policy. This is just how things work when we get our news from celebrity journalists making upper 6 and 7 figure incomes.
Howard Kurtz: Well, what’s the solution? Salary caps for journalists?
Look, let’s not put Cronkite on a pedestal. He was very well paid, even though he served before the era of multimillion-dollar salaries. He knew all the big-time politicians, and all the NASA officials and astronauts that he covered. He spent his spare time on Martha’s Vineyard and was hardly averse to socializing.
As for average reporters, a half-century ago many were high school graduates who hit the bar after work and were pretty friendly with the cops they covered. Journalism was a working-class profession. Today, many reporters make upper-middle-class salaries, but they also have advanced degrees and more specialized knowledge of their subject areas. So there is a tradeoff.
The salary caps will come when the papers are turned into nonprofits anyway. And I do find it interesting that we always hear about how much money national new orgs lose, but no one talks about cutting salaries (I realize they couldn’t go any lower at regional papers, but they sure could at the Post and Times, let alone on national tv). Of course when auto companies lose money, it’s all because the workers get paid too much. It’s hard not to see a double standard at a certain point.
The stuff about advanced degrees and specialized knowledge troubles me. It’s not true about specialized knowledge, as far as I can tell, and the talk about advanced degrees (which aren’t at all necessary for being a good reporter) makes me think that a lot of professional degrees do nothing other than the fill the degree-holder with an unwarranted sense of entitlement.
Update. To be totally clear, I agree with this:
I don’t think its the “average reporters” who are in a working class occupation that are the problem. I don’t want to throw things at the guys and gals that work at my home town paper.
The local reporters I know are hard-working and sharp. And I don’t think they get paid much.
But I am willing to include a lot of Posties and Timesmen in my condemnation here.