Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Milking Cows Pays More Than Reporting

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Milking Cows Pays More Than Reporting

Article excerpt

Oklahoma journalism professor says the low wages paid by many newspapers are `udderly ridiculous' and hurt the product as well as the profession

Milking cows pays more than reporting on many newspapers, says journalism professor Terry Clark, who cited a recent dairy company advertisement to support his claim.

As part of an article he prepared for the Oklahoma Publisher, Clark reproduced an advertisement from Braum's Dairy Farm seeking milkers at $8 an hour.

"This is udderly ridiculous," said Clark, who is chairman of the journalism department at the University of Central Oklahoma. "You don't need to be able to spell, write or edit, run a computer, type, ask questions, take pictures or lay out pages. You don't need a college degree.... That's more money than most beginning -- and many experienced journalists -- make in this state."

Clark did a little research on the ad and reports that the company employs 48 milkers who work four days a week. Top milkers on the night shift make $9.15 an hour -- $366 a week or $19,002 a year, plus benefits.

Newspaper salary levels is a subject Clark is intimately familiar with -- beyond what one might expect of a college professor. He owned a weekly for 12 years and worked on weeklies and dailies in Oklahoma and Iowa before becoming a teacher. Currently, he is a night copy' editor on the Daily Oklahoman in Oklahoma City.


As a professor in a journalism department, Clark says he routinely receives many calls from newspapers "desperately" seeking reporters, sportswriters, editors and advertising staffers -- jobs that are going unfilled "because there aren't people to take them."

"Even though I've got more people enrolled in beginning reporting than ever, the word is out," he continued. "We tell our students ... that you're not going to get rich in journalism and you have to love it or get out. But those students do deserve to make a living above the poverty level. I know many small newspaper people who don't make $8 an hour when you count all the hours put in and you're already in a survival mode."

Terming low salaries for journalists a shortsighted policy by management, Clark observed: "In newspapers, our niche, our strength is local news. …

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