Workers demand to be paid what the job is worth

I wrote for Nieman predictions that radical salary transparency would start in 2020. The process has taken much longer — and been far less radical — than expected. Some states and municipalities have passed laws, so days of whisper networks about pay ranges seem destined to fade.

that job ads attract greater candidate engagement when they list salaries than when they obscure what the role pays. But not everyone is ready to be fully transparent. Why offer some people $15 per hour (about $30,000 a year) while others doing the same work are apparently worth $125,000? Tell us that the basement is for someone with entry-level experience and detail the kind of experience that merits the ceiling, or create separate listings that better delineate the role differences.

Salary is only a small piece of ensuring equity and inclusion in the workplace. Study after study after study after study points to ongoing disparities for earnings by women and BIPOC journalists. So 2023 is when workers must demand what the job is worth. Information is power.

Some of that power is grassroots-led, including by journalists shining a light on a job they just left as Victoria Walker did in early 2022. Much of the momentum is fueled by collective action, which is where the studies cited above originated. The power lies in the journalists who do the work.

We cannot underestimate the work we do, either, including the work required in the interview process. Potential employers need to consider how reasonable they are about a candidate’s time, especially if they are asking the candidate (especially one employed elsewhere) to perform a task such as developing a list of fleshed-out story ideas.

Journalists should not only demand the wages we deserve, we should ask for the lifestyle flexibility we need. Remote work should not necessarily be paid based on the cost of living for the employee’s location, especially as many people have relocated outside metro centers. And remote employees should have the costs of their utilities subsidized by the company. When you report to an office, you don’t pay for electricity or water.

Journalism has the capacity to quickly adapt under extreme circumstances. Pay disparity continues to widen. That’s a circumstance our industry needs to address. Let’s make 2023 the year in which generations of pay inequity are reversed.

Doris Truong is director of teaching and diversity strategies at Poynter.

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