In the world of media, an ever-changing one, it's important to define our terms first. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) defines reporters and correspondents as those professionals who "collect and analyze facts about newsworthy events by interview, investigation or observation" while they "report and write stories for newspaper, news magazine, radio or television." With that clarified, let's take a look at the best cities for these old-school professionals.
Best 5 cities for reporters, correspondents
Of the 150 cities reporting data, these five earned our best score, comprising the factors of median salary, cost of living and location quotient. Speaking of salary, the 42,280 reporters and correspondents employed in the U.S. in May 2014 earned $45,800 on average, or an hourly wage of $22.02, according to the BLS, which has different categories for "broadcast news analysts" and "court reporters."
1. Washington, D.C.
The nation's capital has the nation's second-highest location quotient, meaning that there is a high demand for journalists relative to the demand for other professions within the area. Of course, many have the dream of serving as their publication's White House correspondent, that one reporter that gets to follow the president on Air Force One and ask the hard questions at press briefings. Some of their work ends up in D.C.'s amazing Newseum, where journos (and avid readers of journalism) go to geek out.
Newspaper with the highest circulation: The Washington Post
Statistical region includes: Arlington and Alexandria, Va.
2. San Francisco
The most expensive city in America, San Francisco is the second-best city for the country's correspondents and reporters. Many descended on San Francisco this summer when an undocumented immigrant murdered a local woman, leading to coverage of potential local and national reforms. The vibrant Bay Area is also home to the Asian American Journalists Association.
Newspaper with the highest circulation: The San Francisco Chronicle
Statistical region includes: San Mateo and Redwood City, Calif.
3. New York
New York City has the most full-time jobs in the field (2,770) in the country, plus the highest annual average salary ($71,580). As the Knight Foundation, one of journalism's best benefactors, noted, there is "no sensible system" to determine the best journalism school in the country, but many can agree that New York City's Columbia University belongs in the conversation. And that's not just because New York City, along with its top university, is the home of the Pulitzer Prizes.
Newspaper with the highest circulation: The Wall Street Journal
Statistical region includes: White Plains, N.Y., and Wayne, N.J.
4. Salt Lake City
The 490 reporters and correspondents here are paid the least compared to their peers in the other top five cities, but they also live in the most affordable place. Utah is, of course, home to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The state's most widely read newspaper also employs the world's only polygamy reporter.
Newspaper with the highest circulation: The Salt Lake Tribune
Massachusetts' main city rounded out the top five because it ranked in the study's top 10 in both the number of jobs and the annual average salary for reporters and correspondents. Boston, it should be noted, was the birthplace of Barbara Walters. But you'd have to travel 60 miles north in New England to find America's oldest newspaper, The New Hampshire Gazette.
Newspaper with the highest circulation: The Boston Globe
Statistical region includes: Cambridge and Quincy, Mass.
Top 100 cities for reporters, correspondents
Cost of living
These were the three key questions we asked in coming up with the list.
- What can reporters/correspondents earn in the city?
We ranked the best cities for reporters/correspondents based on the median annual pay. Income is likely the most important factor people consider when starting their career or relocating elsewhere. A high salary in an expensive city, however, may be less attractive than a lower salary in an affordable town. Our next metric takes affordability into consideration.
- How affordable is it to live in this city?
Now that we have the median salary, we’ll look next at the cost of living. The cost of living is a measure of how far earnings can be stretched. Cities with lower cost of living index numbers ranked higher in our study. For example, the average city is benchmarked at 100. A city with a cost of living index of 188, such as Honolulu, would mean that generally speaking, living expenses are 88% more expensive compared to the average city.
- What is the location quotient for reporters/correspondents in the city?
A place with a high median salary and low cost of living may seem perfect, but job opportunities may be limited. Our third factor accounts for this by favoring cities with high location quotients. Location quotient measures the concentration of reporters/correspondents in an area as a percentage of all occupations and then compares that to the national average. We interpret a higher location quotient to mean a relatively higher demand for a reporter/correspondent’s services.