It wasn't always thus.And today's story, from BuzzFeed:
In 1898 young Winston Churchill, after a couple other writing gigs (Daily Graphic, Telegraph) went off to war with a commission to write for The Morning Post. He produced thirteen articles between September 23 and October 8, 1898 for which he was paid fifteen pounds each. According to the ever handy BoE inflation calculator that is the equivalent of £1651.03 per, or £21463.39 for the lot, $33,053 in today's reserve currency for 15 days work. Not rich but not bad.
More on Churchill another time but here are a couple more factoids: He charged a half-crown (2 1/2 shillings, $11.38) per word in the 1930's, in 1936 his writing income was the equivalent of $800,000 now.
Again, not rich but able to afford his Pol Roger.
Then he went on to become the highest paid scribbler of his day and did some other stuff too....
A whirlwind Washington era has vaulted White House reporters into a charmed, somewhat awkward, but characteristically Trumpian reality: fame and fortune.
Since the 2016 election, the nation’s leading political reporters are flourishing. A media renaissance has juiced salaries for those who can break news about characters in the Trump orbit, thanks to their sourcing on the most intensely followed beat in the world. Blessed with a TV news presidency, CNN and MSNBC are entrenched in an arms race to land “contributors” exclusive to their airwaves. Book publishers and agents are searching for the next Fire and Fury. And print reporters — used to a workmanlike life behind the scenes even on a high-profile beat — have been cast as celebrities of #TheResistance or visible villains trafficking in Fake News.
Reporters’ windfall has stemmed, in part, from a shift in strategy by CNN President Jeff Zucker and NBC News chair Andy Lack, two old-school executives leading the major networks that supplement reporters’ income. (The contributor well for Fox News tends to differ from its rivals.) Dinged by critics for featuring roundtables of talking heads, Zucker and Lack have been on a buying spree to sign reporters who break news to paid contributor contracts. That way, when the Washington Post or New York Times breaks a big Russia–Trump story — and they often do — their network will have exclusive access to the bylined reporter. In the hyper-competitive world of political television, the coin of the realm has become five magic words: “The author joins us now.”
“With the sheer amount of breaking news now, you really are trying to differentiate yourself, and the way to do that is to have all the news breakers if you are a network,” said one CNN source.
CNN contributors include the New York Times’ Maggie Haberman, Jonathan Martin, and Julie Hirschfeld Davis, the Washington Post’s Josh Dawsey and Josh Rogin, Politico’s Rachael Bade, Time’s Molly Ball, Bloomberg’s Margaret Talev, and AP’s Julie Pace. NBC News and MSNBC have signed on contributors such as Philip Rucker, Robert Costa, David Fahrenthold, and Ashley Parker from the Washington Post, the Daily Beast’s Betsy Woodruff, Gabe Sherman and Emily Jane Fox from Vanity Fair, and Peter Baker, Matt Apuzzo, Jeremy Peters, Charlie Savage, and Michael Schmidt at the New York Times.
Compensation ranges widely, but it has risen in recent years, according to reporters, agents, and network sources. Starting contributor rates for political reporters fall between about $30,000 and $50,000 a year. Top reporters can earn between $50,000 and $90,000 for their TV side-hustles, and some seasoned pros — boosted by loyalty and multi-year arrangements — make as much as $250,000....