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Journalists’ High-Paying Pre-News Employment

In the decades-long push for real, last-resort data on labor markets in the United States, little was known about whether reporters make more money than other media workers, which helps explain why the issue has a certain allure to reporters, and why it is often picked up by policymakers. These issues don’t get much attention in the nation’s leading papers: Not until last December, with a column about well-paid Democrats, did the New York Times write an article about “how wage gaps in the media work,” until now.

In this week’s paper, Maureen Dowd, the Times’ lead news columnist, includes a particularly notable but not surprising bit of data: that reporters earn far more than television, radio, and print journalists who field a relative trickle of the national press corps. But why?

Do media reporters get paid more than their colleagues in some of the same jobs, but on less media time and with lesser resources? Since much of the industry is volunteer, you could say that’s true. But that seems an odd explanation to take to the relationship between labor rates and their production.

This is not an issue to focus on naively, in my view. To speak about it fairly, journalists are technically not the kind of people who are paid to be available and work on the evening news all day and the weekend. They are journalists, and, in the process of producing quality journalism, they are paid less than the average person whose main job is to be present at any given moment and to perform a host of other more traditional production tasks. The point of this salary gap may well not be the same as the national wage gap, but it does seem reasonably clear that media outlets are out of step with the salaries of most other media workers.

I asked several New York Times reporters about this, and they were mostly confused. Indeed, I received plenty of replies to my conversation question about the salaries of journalists that focused primarily on pay discrepancies between that particular sector and other sectors, never mind between journalists and other professions that are not media at all. The Times journalists I spoke with each could not name a single example of how much more they are paid than the head of an organization of three or four full-time journalists.

They pointed me to an article by Jeremy W. Peters in April, which made a case, after being asked a question I considered fairly innocuous, that New York Times journalists’ combined salary rose steadily between 2015 and 2017. This “a stunning 96 percent jump,” Peters noted, “is roughly equal to the wage gap between [New York Times executive editor] Dean Baquet and columnist [opinion page editor] Bob Cohn,” (the two of whom he accused of having talked about the salary gulf and who both claim to be earning in the low five figures compared to something in the mid to high four figures). So sure, the salary gap between media journalists and other journalists does indeed seem to be large; no, not big enough to be interesting or important enough to have a lot of news outlets as a source of data. But that is not really the point. If journalism is, according to your conversation with me, more important to you than the job of working on the evening news, then all the surprise you can produce at your superlative salary for delivering a superlative product may be just as important to you as it is to the part of your role that you proudly call “consumable.”

If you’re wondering if I might have accidentally fallen off of your salary scale, I would never try to shame you into getting a non-journalist job over a journalist who needs the cash. (That there is a “diverging superlative,” as Peters wrote, probably doesn’t help.) But I am impressed, in general, by my colleagues’ aptitude for shaping newsrooms as institutions to better serve the best interests of citizens. You worked incredibly hard to get your job. That is an excellent and worthy work, one of the few noble things happening in journalism right now. Rather than bully yourself or someone else into the other job (which is perhaps where the real, wild discrepancies begin), put your skills to the most productive and serviceable use you can.

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G.M. Suing Rival Over Bribery Scheme as Union Scandal Expands

Continue reading G.M. Suing Rival Over Bribery Scheme as Union Scandal Expands

Photo Highlights: President Obama Chicago Farewell Speech

President Barack Obama makes his final farewell speech in his hometown of Chicago. Arriving at O’hare airport on Airforce One Tuesday, early evening was First Lady Michelle Obama, daughter Malia and Vice President Joe Biden along with wife, Jill Biden. Making a final journey as the 44th President of the United States, expressways and local South Side streets were cleared as traffic stood at a complete when the 20-vehicle caravan made its way to Valois Restaurant in Hyde Park. There, President Obama conducted a one-on-one interview with NBC anchorman, Lester Holt before proceeding to give his farewell speech at McCormick Place. Nearly 20,000 attendees packed the nearly standing-room only space in the East wing of the McCormick Place as VIP attendees sat upfront to hang onto the President’s every word. There were various groups that traveled from far and near to be a part of history including celebrity sightings from Sharon Stone to Empire’s Jussie Smollett–local and state dignitaries. Opening up the ceremony was a special performance by Hip hop/R&B singer, BJ the Chicago Kid showcasing belting out the national anthem is a smart blue suit. Once President Obama hit the stage, the electric energy of emotions ran throughout the audience. At times, the crowd’s applause was so loud that it impossible to hear him but there were moments that silence rippled throughout the venue–knowing this would be his last time addressing his hometown as Chief of Staff. In his signature style of class, poise and honor–he addressed the various strides that he and his administration has made over the last eight years in protecting America’s democracy. His emotions got the best of him when he addressed his wife, First Lady Michelle Obama and daughter Malia who sat in the front row along with Vice President Joe Biden, wife Jill and his mother-in-law–Marian Shields Robinson.

“Malia and Sasha, under the strangest of circumstances, you have become two amazing young women, smart and beautiful, but more importantly, kind and thoughtful and full of passion. You wore the burden of years in the spotlight so easily. Of all that I’ve done in my life, I’m most proud to be your dad.”

After the speech, the Obama family took time out to walk along the barricades, greeting and shaking hands with supporters and friends. The scene was definitely historic and we knew it was the end of an era of class that will not be duplicated in the White House for a very long time.

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Google hires team that says labor union elections are illegal

The Associated Press reported on Tuesday that the current CEO of Alphabet, the parent company of Google, has hired a group that has long opposed unionization efforts among companies’ white-collar employees.

Google has been in the crosshairs of labor activists who argue that its management needs to stop dragging its feet in adopting union elections among its American workers. Union activists say the company is trying to starve unions of resources and voters.

Alphabet has long denied that it seeks to stifle union organizing at Google. “Over time, a more diverse, representative company will be an even better employer and supplier,” it said in a statement Tuesday.

Only 29 Google workers, most of them from India, have voted to organize as the United Auto Workers’ Google division has pursued talks with the company for several years. Workers at Google’s Japanese parent, SoftBank, also voted to unionize last month.

Earlier this year, dozens of Google employees turned out to protest the company’s outsourcing and bonus-scheme among tech and non-tech workers.

Joseph Hansen, a senior partner at the Lincoln Group and a former Republican staffer on Capitol Hill, said this election season is particularly crucial to Google. “It is an election year in many respects for any company that has labor union membership. In that year, it becomes much more visible.”

The Lincoln Group has lobbied on behalf of businesses such as Google and Facebook, but its social-policy efforts have focused on Republican causes.

Public union opposition to unionization among employers has grown over the past several years. In 2013, Americans for Workplace Opportunity, a political action committee, spent more than $1 million to oppose unionization drives at companies, including Apple and American Airlines.

The National Labor Relations Board has grown more assertive in organizing among companies. This spring, it called on Boeing to hold elections at some of its factories in the United States and in Mexico. The board’s reviews of complaints by workers have mounted.

In April, the NLRB certified a union vote at Spirit AeroSystems, a Wichita, Kan., company. The NLRB ruled that an attempt by the company to illegally fire one of the union’s organizers violated labor law. The company appealed to a federal appeals court, which last month asked the NLRB to explain how it could conclude that the union had the right to organize an employer.

The NLRB would not comment on this election campaign, but said its investigations often get them involved in organizing for employees’ wages and working conditions. It is “not uncommon,” the board said, to receive an election election notice within two weeks of the election itself.