Wednesday, July 30, 2008

SASHA & JERRY 13 (3)

Mike felt compelled to respond to PW.

"Hi PW,
Point taken… However, I did say: “I'm not sure that many of our current crop of 'journalists' deserve to be making big money. A few, yes, but the majority, no.” The few I refer to here would be the bunch of veteran journalists you’ve mentioned.

"I’m not sure I follow what you mean by “The question of novices being hired over veterans is a sign that that is not about to change anytime soon.” Media companies have to hire fresh talent. It is up to companies to rationalise their salary structures so that authentic veteran journalists and deserving new hires get paid commensurate with their talent and experience.

"You say some people “earn Senior reporter status just for having a degree…” Does this really happen? If it does, it might explain the current mess we’re in. Everyone should have to earn his/her stripes regardless of educational qualifications.

"That said, your comments raise an interesting point. And what I am about to say is not intended to disparage your or anyone’s journalistic achievement. But it seems to me that there is an anti-intellectual attitude in Trinidad journalism steeped in the notion that “common sense was made before book.” That wisdom is certainly true. But journalism is an intellectual profession, and the best journalists are essentially public intellectuals.

"I do believe that a good first degree should be the minimum standard for entry into journalism today. That’s how it is abroad. In fact, it’s not uncommon to find people in journalism with a bachelor’s, a masters and a PhD. Not to mention JDs (U.S. lawyers), MBAs and CPAs (chartered public accountants).

"There are Rhodes, Fulbright, Marshall, Presidential and other scholars on the staffs of many U.S. news organisations. (Time magazine’s managing editor, Richard Stengel; former Time editor and former CNN chairman Walter Isaacson; Nicholas Kristof and Tom Friedman at The New York Times, Jim Amoss, editor of the New Orleans Times Picayune and many more.)

"I’d love to hear some more thoughts on this education vs. experience debate.

"Regarding the TT$20,000-a-month salary you mentioned for authentic senior reporters, I would say this sounds reasonable. But let’s do an exercise and try to come up with a salary scale for the print industry. What would be the salaries for:

"A rookie reporter with no degree
"A rookie reporter with a degree
"A senior reporter ($20k per month)
"A desk editor (features, crime, business, education etc.)
"A news editor
"A columnist
"A senior columnist
"A deputy editor
"An editor in chief

"I’ve probably missed some roles here, so feel free to fill in where necessary. You know the industry much better than I do.
Maybe at the end of this someone can present the figures to MATT and have them lobby for higher salaries. Just a thought…"


Great suggestion Mike.
So we are throwing this out to all our readers who have worked in the trenches of the media industry in Trinidad and Tobago.
Tell us, what do you think should be reasonable salaries for journalists? Mike has suggested some positions in print journalism, but we would like to add to the mix some positions in broadcast journalism (radio & tv):

Trainee reporter
Junior reporter
Senior reporter
Senior Producer
News reader/Presenter
Assignments Editor
Head of News

Joanne Briggs take note: we will send all responses to you as well.
You recently said the Media Association (MATT) is not a union, but is there no way that you and your board/members can lobby for better wages and working conditions for media workers?
Even if you offer supplemental training, they would probably still like to take home reasonable salaries.