The editor-in-chief occupies the highest editorial position. He is supposed to have complete control over every department of his publication, except the business one. He decides the editorial policy and how to maintain it. He has the final word on hiring and firing members of the editorial staff. He is responsible for everything that appears in the publication outside of the advertisements. The editor-in-chief is absolute. Only a small part of so-called “editors-in-chief” control the right of policy of their publications, as this is established by the owners, and the editor-in-chief is usually hired or promoted as an employee. The editors-in-chief of newspapers in large cities draw salaries from $50,000 to $90,000 a year, and a few are paid twice as much. The average salary of the large city editor-in-chief is not far from $110,000.
In salary the managing editor is next to the editor-in-chief. He may or may not be a good editorial writer. The chances are that he is both a savvy writer and a businessperson. He is the executive officer. Under the editor-in-chief, he actively carries out the policy of the publication. To an extent he is a superintendent, assuming the responsibility for the publication’s active work. Managing editors receive annual salaries from 10 to 25 percent less than what editors-in-chief earn.
Editorial writers are journalists who do the bulk of the editorial work of the publication. They write many of the editorials except those written by freelancers, the editor-in-chief and managing editor. A large magazine, newspaper, or online news site, may employ anywhere from two to a dozen such writers, who are graded according to their capacity and responsibility. The head editorial writer composes the feature articles or main news items, and the other writers prepare the rest.
Because of the convenience of the Internet, some editorial writers work at home, giving only a part of their time to the publication. Writers who work remotely a few days out of the week are paid by a salary, or by the column inch. It is common nowadays for a daily newspaper to have a number of editors-at-large, each one a specialist in one specific department. These writers are usually paid by the piece, although some of them draw salaries. When breaking news requires expert opinions, the editor-in-chief will assign the editor-at-large (who is familiar with that kind of news) to prepare an editorial, which he completes on a tight deadline (usually within 24 hours or sooner).
Editorial writers in large cities may draw salaries of from $25,00 to $35,000 a year. Probably few ever receive more than $45,000. Special editorial writers, who give but a part of their day, receive space rates or by the column—they earn salaries from $8,000 to $12,000 a year.
The city editor of a newspaper or regional news website has charge of the local reporters. He is responsible for obtaining the city news. The city editor does not double as a staff writer, but he must understand timely topics and what his readers want to read. He must hold a finger on the public pulse, so he can give the readers what they want in the way of local happenings. The city editors of large papers and news organizations, online and offline, receive anywhere from $40,000 to $51,000 a year.
Headline writers are responsible for the headings of articles and news, and the writing these headlines is very important work. A headline writer of a large newspaper or website receives anywhere from $25,000 to $44,000 a year. If a newspaper or magazine decides not to employ headline writers, then the editors, copy editors and writers work together to come up with appropriate headlines.
Literary editors and freelance writers are responsible for special columns, book reviews and other cultural arts articles. As a rule, they work away from the newspaper office, and most of them do not devote their entire time to any one publication. Their salaries run from $10,000 to $20,000 a year, the average being not far from $12,000.
Desk editors are readers and correctors of manuscript of every kind and class. They must, first of all, be good grammarians and users of pure English, and also possess much discretion. On great dailies these editors draw salaries of from $30,000 to $45,000 a year. The smaller city newspapers, as a rule, do not employ such editors.
Columnists (also known as “space writers”), those who write by the column and are paid for what is printed, receive from $25 to $75 a column.
Reporters on large newspapers are paid from $200 to $700 a week, comparatively few earning the higher figure; the average pay is no more than $500 a week. A first-class, competent reporter may earn up to $600 a week. The majority of editors, even editors-in-chief, originally worked as reporters and journalists.
The life of a country editor is as close to the ideal of civilization as is permitted. His average income is from $35,000 to $55,000 a year. The maximum income of a country editor and proprietor does not exceed $85,000, except in rare cases. Many country editors earn about $45,000 annually, usually with the assistance of the printing office connected with the newspaper.