Wednesday, 23 April 2014

What is the Salary of a Journalist in India?

How much do Indian journalists earn in a month? What is the median to the pay package and incentives that news reporters and production journalists share?

Some of the commonest queries that I receive from readers, aspiring journalists, and Mass Communication students revolve around salaries and incentives members of news organizations "enjoy." I wouldn't like to encourage false hopes if you are the socialite-type though.

Money. Money. Money. Who would have thought that the good institution also pays its share of tributes to Mr. Mammon. The new media corporate, after all, is also your livelihood, is it not?

Salaries have not always been compassionate to “third-world” journalists. The United States and the United Kingdom, Australia and Canada are where the greener (and taller) grass is. Prosperous Asian economies such as China, South Korean, and Japan, dole out bigger benefits and higher living-standards-to-remuneration ratios too, obviously.

India woke to the plight of journalists late. Thankfully, for the competitive and skilled Indian journalist of the millennial years things are brighter than it was 10 years ago. He can earn well if he is market-savvy, proficient in news-gathering, is dedicated and loves competition.

From Small Change to Green Winds

The new economic realities globalization brought about also found reflection in the way the media industry began interpreting the economics of its employees. Since 1955, the government’s policy-makers have been instating wage boards to review the salaries of professionals in India. For instance, in 2007, the central government instated the Majithia Wage Board for Working Journalists. The wage board is perhaps the most proactive of the wage boards 

if one compares the industry lacunae of the post-globalization boom and the subsequent recession that saw mass layoffs and buyouts. The only problem: There are just too many publishers that want to hoard the money while the actual revenue generators, the news personnel, languish in the BPL pay band.

Even in my own state, I appreciate that a small state newspaper like The Morung Express would implement, although partially, the Wajithia Wage Board recommendations. The Assam Tribune, a more prominent regional newspaper in the North East Region, has also implemented the wages scale recommended by the board. 

Aside from such small graces, journalists of small news publications generally still toil way  beyond their pay bands while their publishers take home more than they ought to.

In India, the digital media and the broadcast organizations have been nudging into the turfs of the print industry since the digital revolution – the New Media – began in the late ‘90s. The shift from traditional print formats to the more convenient digital form intensified the competition. Meaning, news organizations now offer more competitive paychecks and incentives.

Salaries, incentives journalists in India are paid
Salary Median

Variance, and Base Salaries

In India, a journalist with an experience of 4-and-above years earns an average salary of Rs 2, 20,907 (Median) in a year. Professionals in this profession generally do not have a job experience of more than 20 years. Keep in mind, though, that salaries vary. The salary a reporter receives working for TOI would be lower or higher than his counterpart’s paycheck in the Bangalore Mirror. The same goes for production professionals: An editor in NDTV could be making more than does his counterpart in Times News, and so on.

In other words, a journalist’s salary depends on the reach and extent of the news organization he works with. For Instance, TOI, Indian Express, and Hindustan Times, and CNN, NDTV are large organizations and by casual calculations, their employees make a little more than the smaller news organizations. Salaries also vary, depending on the skills, experience and job profile of the journalist.

The variable applies to regional news groups. For instance, Delhi and Mumbai are the news hot-spots of the country. Salary offered by newspaper organizations in Delhi, or the scale offered by television channels in Mumbai, for instance, could be comparatively (and normally ) higher than those in Bangalore or Chennai.

I hope the following medians give you an idea about the salary journalists make on an average.

Note: All the figures given are in the median, and based on national average, for both newspapers and broadcast journalists. Readers may want to check, or read finance news and corporate blogs regularly to stay updated.

Salary of news production professionals

Let us take a look at the average salary of production professionals – production journalists – working with national news organizations. They are professionals with specialized, applied skills and expertise in various areas of production: language and editing, designing, analysis and knowledge of multi-media platforms and applications.

Senior editor/senior subeditor/senior copywriter/senior copy editor with 6-10 years experience In the country’s metropolitan areas such as Bangalore, Chennai, Delhi, Kolkata, and Mumbai can earn anywhere from Rs. 3 lakh to Rs. 7+ lakh per annum.

For an idea of the base earnings that sub-editors and senior sub-editors make, I asked my recent friend Anirban Roy, a former correspondent with a national newspaper. He sent me this text: “With 2-3 years of experience, one will get around Rs. 30, 000 per month in Delhi, and with more than 5 years experience, salary will be around 45, 000 and Rs. 55, 000.” 

That did not sound too bad, did it?

For journalism students in North East India, particularly Nagaland, I felt to add this piece too in case you wish to know. In the Northeast, the median for production journalists is around Rs. 11, 500 per month. A sub editor with an experience of 2-3 years takes home at least Rs. 12, 000 per month. 

Those with more than 5 years of work experience makes in the range of Rs. 19, 000-Rs.25, 000 a month. This is the base salary, without bonus and performance incentives. 

Salary of Reporters

Reporters are journalists that witness events, or research matter and present the collated information – from hard political news and current events to human-interest stories and, sometimes, painful nonsense – to the public.
Unlike the developed countries, the Indian media woke to globalization only in the early 2000s. 

Prior to the advent of New Media, Reporters in India enjoyed some of the most horrifying salaries ever in the media. Even modern media deities such as the Times of India and the Hindustan Times were paying an emotionally disturbing Rs. 5, 000-6, 000 to entry reporters during the beginning of the decade. Competition, and the demands of modern lifestyles and escalating living standards were the chief reasons for which the Indian media decided on a paradigm shift.

Today cub reporters (They are ‘baby’ journalists, you see) working in the metropolitan areas start in the range Rs 8,000 to 12, 000 a month. The more experienced lot, particularly senior political correspondents,  with more than 5 years, have heavier pockets – they earn anywhere from Rs. 5, 00, 000 to 10, 00, 000 per annum inclusive of bonuses and perks.

At the regional level, a cub reporter receives around Rs. 7, 500 a month while those in the 3-5 years experience receive a package in the range of Rs. 12, 000. Senior reporters who have more than 5 years of experience are paid salaries in the range Rs. 20, 000-25, 000.

Hard Work, Star Power and Goals

Media organizations also ‘market’ popular employees to increase their audience. Big audiences translate into big revenues and growth of the company. Visible and popular professionals are promoted and ‘brand marketed’, and in the process increase circulation (print), audience (broadcast) or traffic (web). 

When blogger Nate Sliver of the New York Times shifted his blog to CNN, there was a drop in the stock at the big apple's, while CNN’s increased. Such is the power of ‘totem workers’ in any company. In India, NDTV’s has a totem in star reporter Barka Dutt who you know is one of the channel’s biggest Nelsen ratings insurance. She reportedly receives around Rs. 5 Lakh a month as basic salary.

Do not expect such gratitude from regional publishers in non-metropolitan, non-national news organizations in India, though.

The variables are extensive. Still, do not forget that the size of your salary also depends on your willingness to work hard, and on the degree of passion and dedication to your craft, and of course, your skill-quotient.

Your skill-quotient and work aptitudes decide how much you can earn.  I know people who earn more in a regional newspaper than others do working in a national publication or a news channel. Seriously. 

Such cases are not common, true, but nor are they a rarity either. You can attain the same mark too if you demonstrate the drive and talent that some of the most successful journalists of our times displayed.

©2012 Al Ngullie ALL RIGHTS RESERVED This article contains material protected under International and Federal Copyright Laws and Treaties. Any unauthorized reprint or use of this material is prohibited. No part of this article may be reproduced in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval systemwithout express written permission from the author / publisher.


  1. Thanks for the info. I m a Mass.comm graduate and I've been searching for proper information about salaries of reporters in India but most of them give only general estimates and not monthly salaries etc Thanks, it really helps a lot

  2. Thank you for this highly analytical article. Really helped me. Can you also write about freelance journalists' fees and work charges? I'm thinking of doing some freelance work before applying for a regular job with a newspaper inn Bangalore. Thank you.

  3. What about the journalists who work for newspapers?Could you please inform?

  4. Hello Anamika, thank you for visiting. You may have to read the piece again. The median elaborated here is for news professionals in the print media with clear emphasis on newspapers.

  5. Hey. Thanks for your informative and logical help. Actually, the thing is I am confused between what to choose as my career option. Engineering or mass comm? I don't know whether I'll earn enough after my under grad if I pick mass comm. Please help me compare the pros and cons of both the fields! Thankyou