LA Times Staffers Expose Their Own Paper's Staggering Pay Gaps


The Los Angeles Times Guild rightfully harped on its parent company’s astronomical executive pay during its successful union drive in the final months of 2017. Now, the emboldened union is using its megaphone to highlight pay disparities within its own newsroom.

The union on Wednesday published an analysis of salary data from 323 full-time newsroom employees provided by tronc, its Chicago-based parent company. The leading numbers from the Times newsroom are striking:

“Some of these gaps can be explained by the Times’ lopsided demographics,” the Guild wrote. “The more senior journalists in our bargaining unit, who make the most money, are more likely to be white and male. The younger journalists in our bargaining unit, who make the least money, are more likely to be women and people of color.”

“However,” it added, “there are significant and persistent gaps even when comparing women and people of color to their male and white peers in the same jobs, with similar experience.”

Those gaps existed across almost all job types and gender and racial identities surveyed. The average salary for a reporter who is a woman of color ($82,500) is less than those of white female ($91,760) or non-white male reporters ($91,130). The average salary for white male reporters, meanwhile, is $105,611.

Times staffers have grown into one of the more vocal media labor groups on Twitter, and they did not hold back Wednesday against their own newspaper, whose sale to a local billionaire is nearly finalized.

One other finding from the Guild’s study is worth teasing out: While Los Angeles County’s population is nearly 50 percent Latinx people, less than 15 percent of the Times newsroom identified as such. The underrepresentation is not only a moral failure, but also a threat to the company’s journalism and business.

A new law in the United Kingdom requiring companies to report salary information has revealed massive pay gaps at the country’s largest media outlets. But American media companies tend not to share such data by choice. Gizmodo Media Group—Splinter’s parent company—published a staff diversity report last year that did not include employee salaries. Writers Guild of America-East, GMG’s union, conducted an internal survey in lieu of such information, but has not made it public.

The Times data on race also confirmed what its own staff had long felt to be true. The paper’s nine-editor masthead is all white. The two departments not represented on the masthead—sports and business—are headed by people of color. The paper has had just one female publisher, and a woman has never been its editor in chief.

A tronc spokesperson has yet to respond to Splinter’s request for comment.

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