Toronto Star hiring 8 Digital Journalists with a catch

Should be positive news right? 8 more jobs to hit the industry, more opportunities.  Here’s the catch: The journalists will make $200/ week less than their print counterparts at $961/week according to a J-Source article.  Putting it in perspective: an entry-level journalist at the Star is paid $1169/week.  Management argue they’re market-based salaries comparable to what you’d find at Rogers, Facebook (Facebook hires journalists?), Huffington Post (they pay journalists?), Canadian Press, and Bell Media. I disagree. If anything Digital Journalists should be paid more because of the medium’s potential.  You can do anything on the web.  A written article with embedded video, or a photo quickly becomes a different experience from flipping through the pages of a newspaper. The key is knowing when to use the technology because sometimes just an article and a photo would do the trick

The distinction between Print, and digital is disappearing; storytelling is storytelling no matter the medium.  I took Sheridan College’s Journalism New Media program, and was trained to shoot and edit video, and in digital photography.  In terms of writing, there were courses on how to write for web, print, and broadcast. My idea of a Digital Journalist is that you have training and  ability to do it all.  And maybe that’s the long-term plan for the Toronto Star: get these 8 digital journalists into the fold, pay them less and eventually phase out the print journalists.  The difference in wages would soon improve the newspaper’s bottom line.

Toronto is considered  “The Media Market” in Canada, and the Star is one of the top dailies in the country. As a job-hunter I look at this and think; ‘You’re going to expect me to commute, and do the same (or possibly more) work as a print journalist for $200 less/week,’ are you nuts? Larger market should equal a higher salary.  If I want to work for less money, I’ll do the trade-off and work closer to home.  Then it becomes my choice, instead of taking a job that pays less because I need the work.

And then you’ve got the fairness of it.  It isn’t fair to expect us to do the same work for less pay.  There’s just as much work involved gathering information, interviewing sources, attending events, and writing the stories for web as there is for print.  Sometimes there’s more because I find I spend a lot more time verifying the facts (contacting names attached to twitter accounts for example).    When you add in the time spent editing a photo on Photo Shop, or a video on Final Cut, it could actually take more time than with print.  Doing all that for $200 less is ridiculous.

Good luck with hiring Toronto Star… you’ll need it.

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2 Comments

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2 responses to “Toronto Star hiring 8 Digital Journalists with a catch

  1. J. Warden

    You’re assuming a lot of things based on the J-Source article. Just because someone is hired as a Digital Journalist doesn’t imply you will be editing video, or even photoshopping pictures for articles. Where does it say that must be done? I took Journalism in school, and worked for years online without ever having to do edit photos or video.

    You also miss the main point, which is that the Star is looking at further cutbacks internally. So, if you were a business and about to let a large number of people go, in what world does it make sense to turn around and hire eight new employees at the same rate? The hard fact for all journalists is that if we aren’t willing to work for what’s offered, someone else will be. And they’ll be building their portfolio, and moving up in the industry, be it in print or online. They’ll never pay Digital Journalists more than print. And as print declines, they’ll have fewer jobs as it is. The Star won’t have any problem hiring, they’ll have lineups from Carlton, Humber, and Sheridan alone, new grads all vying for those positions.

    • cdnjournalist

      If I were a business about to let people go I wouldn’t hire anyone to replace them for a while.
      There is no such thing as a print vs. Digital journalist anymore, it’s all one job. And one I think deserves to be paid the same. For me it’s a give and take: if I’m going to give up $200/ week eventually I’d like something in return. If not, then I’ll work closer to home and take less money for that advantage.

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