The Scarlet & Black

The Independent Student News Site of Grinnell College

The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

Letter to the Editor: Fair Pay for Journalists

Coming into this semester, I was incredibly excited to start my new job with The S&B. I was chosen to be the Sports Editor this semester, but after realizing how little I would make, I just couldn’t justify working for the newspaper. This decision was a hard one to make. I had worked on staff last fall as a Copy Editor, a position I had sort of fallen into, but discovered just how much I enjoyed journalism through the job. Unfortunately, I needed to face the reality of my situation and could not commit to working the often long and grueling hours on Thursday nights that The S&B staff put in to publish the paper.

Like many students at the College, I am constantly struggling to balance schoolwork with outside work, some semblance of a social life and, on top of all of that, somehow squeeze in enough sleep to keep me going. This Grinnellian reality is compounded by the fact that I am off-campus this year and now need to make enough money to pay rent and buy myself food. I realize I am not unique in this situation. A good portion of the student body is struggling to make ends meet in a lot of different ways, and they are often forced to take out loans just to live. Fortunately, I was able to find other work besides working for The S&B that pays me a fair wage.

The federal and Iowa state minimum wage is currently $7.25 per hour. Student workers at the College make a minimum of $8.50. But, when it’s calculated out, a Sports Editor on the staff for The S&B make about $4.16 an hour. The S&B staff are not technically paid by the hour, rather they are paid in a stipend. The problem with this stems from the unpredictable nature of the work: staffers often end up working long hours over the course of the week, sometimes putting upwards of 20 hours in. This is no small commitment and the time it takes up could be spent studying, working another higher-paying job or socializing.

This disparity in pay has a number of consequences. First, it directly limits who is able to work for The S&B. By not paying at least the equivalent of a minimum wage, SPARC is preventing students like myself, students who need to make money to make ends meet while they’re at school, from simply working for staff. SPARC should pay The S&B by the hour, and at the minimum wage, in order to open up the opportunity to all students to get journalism experience.

-Jack O’Malley ’16

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