Working on Deadline: Exploring Predictors of Career Success for U.S. Daily Newspaper Journalists
Neidorf, Shawn M.
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This study set out to determine whether and how much human capital, social networks, race and gender affected two measures of journalistic career outcomes, or success: pay and occupational autonomy. This project sought to test whether principles established in studies of other types of workers—namely, that human capital and social networks contribute to beneficial outcomes—would apply to daily newspaper journalists, a group of quasi-professionals whose jobs mix art, commerce and social utility. As in other fields, human capital is beneficial to journalists: It is associated with higher pay and more autonomy. Notably, experience, having completed internships and having access to resources at work all contribute to higher pay, but education and journalistic skills do not. Education, reporting skills and access to resources are associated with higher pay. Circulation serves as a powerful mediator in the pay model, reflecting that larger papers are simply able to pay more than are smaller papers. The findings for social networks are more complicated. There is some limited indication that social networks, help, but Lin’s conception of social resources is not a very good fit. There is modest support for the importance of networks, but it seems that those in positions of authority (editors) are not especially likely to be helpful in securing higher pay, and networks do not appear to affect autonomy at all. Knowing senior reporters is associated with higher pay, which suggests some form of brokerage may be going on. Consistent with the findings of others, women have less rich networks than men. Inconsistent with other findings, minority journalists do not have poorer networks than do their white colleagues. While being male is associated with higher pay and more autonomy, being white is not; indeed being white is associated with lower pay. Looking more specifically at how the models predicting pay and resources may function differently for whites and non-whites, men and women, the results were ambiguous, not strong enough to demonstrate any clear difference in how men and women’s social networks or human capital function.