Are you an aspiring journalist who is still in high school, or are you already working as a staff or freelance journalist elsewhere? Chances are high that you have dreamed about working at the New York Times at least once.
What do staff writers for this famous newspaper earn per year, though, and how do you increase your odds of landing a job at the New York Times?
Average Salary for New York Times Writers
Working in varied sectors that include grant writing, scientific writing, script writing, web content writing, and authoring books, writers and authors in the United States earn, the Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates, a median annual salary of $67,120. Reporters and journalists, meanwhile, make a lower average of $49,300.
The terms “average” and “median”, of course, both mean that a great deal of writers are earning significantly less, while a small number bring in considerably higher annual salaries. Are you assuming that staff writers at a daily publication with as much prestige and history — not to mention a global readership — as the New York Times would earn more than the average staff writer?
Not that much data is available to confirm or deny this suspicion, but we do have access to some.
Glassdoor reports that the average annual salary for New York Times staff writers is $67,158, while claiming that salaries range from $58,861 to $79,139. While this seems plausible when considering the national salary ranges for reporters and other journalists, it is crucial to keep in mind that these figures are based on a very small sample size, and are therefore not terribly reliable.
New York Times staff writers are unionized and represented by the Newspaper Guild. This fact is certain to have an impact on the salary ranges within this publication.
What Do New York Times Writers Make Per Hour?
Due to the fact that reliable data regarding average salaries at the New York Times is hard to come by, it is impossible to say for sure. Based on the average reported by Glasdoor, the hourly earnings for full-time staff writers would be approximately $32,50, however.
Information regarding freelance rates is also not publicly available, and rates will be the result of negotiations between the editor and the freelancer, depending on the type of work.
Salary Based on Experience
As in any reputable publication — or any other workplace, for that matter — junior staff would have lower salaries than the most experienced writers. Beyond that truism, there is little hard data to base any conclusions on.
What we can say with certainly, however, is that even participants in the New York Times Fellowship Program, a year-long internship through which the New York Times nurtures the next generation of journalistic talent, do receive payment as well as benefits. This publication is committed to its staff’s professional development at each level, and with that, it certainly adds to each writer’s earning potential.
Salary Based on Education
The New York Times offers a wide variety of professional development programs for its staff. Those who are hired as fellows will certainly earn less than senior staff writers with many years of experience. However, this publication clearly values on-the-job experience. Applicants with advanced degrees cannot expect to earn significantly more than those who have a Bachelor’s degree upon joining the newspaper, and without any prior work experience.
Those aspiring journalists who are privileged enough to be hired by the New York Times can, rather, expect to work at a publication that continuously helps them improve their skills. Should they stay with the paper, they can reasonably expect to earn higher salaries over time.
Top Paying States
Although the New York Times is based in New York, of course, the newspaper maintains a strong network of correspondents all over the country, and the world. Salary ranges or (in the case of freelance writers) rates will depend on the nature of the work they are doing, as well as on their location. As such, it is not possible to give clear information about the top-paying states for New York Times writers.
Young aspiring reporters who manage to join the New York Times team are very fortunate. Although landing a fellowship position by no means guarantees that a writer will later be offered a full-time role, it may increase the odds. The most talented journalists will find, in the New York Times, a publication that values them and shows it by continuing to offer educational opportunities.
The fact that the New York Times is a unionized publication offers additional job stability; in the past, for example, the Guild that represents writers at the New York Times negotiated no-layoff guarantees for writers.
Staff writers at this prestigious publication can certainly enjoy fulfilling careers at the New York Times until they retire.
What Exactly Does a New York Times Writer Do?
The duties of a New York Times writer will depend, to a large extent, on the desk at which they are working. The New York Times covers everything from US politics and international politics to science, sports, tech, lifestyle, business, and real estate news. A writer’s typical job description will depend on the path they take.
Some of the things New York Times writers may do over the course of a normal day, on the other hand, include:
- Developing and vetting sources, and where relevant maintaining long-term relationships with them.
- Engaging in data analysis and fact-checking.
- Pitching new story ideas.
- Being out in the field, covering the news as it unfolds.
- Interviewing people of interest.
- Writing engaging stories and reports in line with the paper’s style and tone, and contributing to headline ideas.
- Working to tight deadlines to ensure that the news can be published in time.
- Revising stories as needed.
All the while, New York Times writers will be expected to maintain strong journalistic ethics. Writing for a top publication like the New York Times is a calling as much as a job, and applicants should be willing to be on the move whenever something interesting is happening. The news never sleeps, after all.
How to Become a New York Times Writer?
The New York Times itself, fortunately, offers very helpful and transparent guidelines in this arena. The publication makes it clear that it seeks talented and skilled journalists all the time, including by head-hunting after keeping a close eye on the competition.
As a seasoned journalist with a proven track record, you can simply apply for a position with the New York Times. If the paper is interested, a multi-stage job interview will follow.
Young aspiring writers can, meanwhile, apply to take part in the New York Times’ Fellowship Program. Those who don’t yet have a lot of experience and who are applying for staff writer positions are encouraged to show the publication exactly how they stand out. This is not the time to be humble. Owing to its popularity, the New York Times will always receive more job applications than it can handle. If you are, in any way, exceptional, you need to show them.
Qualifications to Be a New York Times Writer
To be a staff writer at the New York Times, you will likely require a Bachelor’s degree in journalism at the very least. At certain desks, like the tech or science desks, advanced degrees in other fields may be helpful.
Freelance writers are different. As long as a contribution meets the publication’s stringent requirements, and are able to write a uniquely newsworthy or important article, qualifications are going to be irrelevant. That is to say, young climate activists who leave a global mark or musicians who uncover systemic corruption in the music industry, for instance, certainly have a chance to be published in the New York Times.
Skills to Be a New York Times Writer
New York Times writers will have an exceptional commitment to the field of journalism. They will be the best of the best — and if they do not yet have the experience to make that claim, they will at least have tangible raw talent. They’ll be exceptional writers as well as skilled gatherers of information who possess the interpersonal skills needed to maintain close relationships with sources, of the kind that facilitate top-quality reporting.
New York Times writers should be intensely curious, driven, and will always be willing to develop their professional skills to keep up with the times.
Can You Be a New York Times Writer Without a Degree?
Though reporters could once build successful careers and strong reputations without ever holding a college degree, that is no longer the case. It is unlikely that anyone without at least a Bachelor’s degree in journalism will be hired as a staffer at the New York Times.