Journalism by and for the 0.01 Percent
Mainstream journalism is, we’re often told, in a state of severe crisis. Newsroom employment began to decline as a result of corporate takeovers in the 1990s. Then the digital revolution destroyed the advertising market, plunging the industry into serious doubt about its very business model.
But times aren’t rough all around. There are many pundits and TV anchors who are doing very well in the media world, racking up millions of dollars from their media contracts, book deals and lucrative speaking fees. Though they don’t generally approach the compensation packages awarded to network morning show hosts like Matt Lauer or evening anchors like Diane Sawyer, they’re not exactly hurting.
Of course, being the boss means the biggest payday—and media company CEOs have been posting unbelievable incomes. In 2012, CBS head Les Moonves made $62 million, Disney’s Robert Iger made $37 million and Rupert Murdoch of Fox took home a comparatively modest $22 million (New York Times, 5/5/13). Don’t feel sorry for Murdoch, though; as No. 91 on Forbes’ list of the world’s richest people, with an estimated net worth of $11.2 billion, he’s unlikely to go to bed hungry.
The media business outstrips other industries in generously compensating its top executives (New York Times, 5/5/13), and those resources could of course be put to better use by hiring reporters. But that’s not the way the system works. And it’s not just the bosses getting rich. Indeed, many high-profile members of the media elite live a rather charmed life. The journalism business looks to be in a disastrous state—but the view from the top is just fine.
Read more: Media Millionaires