New Yorker magazine journalists strike over 'insulting' pay

Josie Ensor
·3 min read
The New Yorker is one of America's most prestigious and respected magazines - Getty
The New Yorker is one of America's most prestigious and respected magazines - Getty

Journalists at The New Yorker magazine staged a walkout on Thursday in protest over “insulting” basic pay, which they claim is "unlivable" for one of the US’s most expensive cities.

Members of the union went on a 24-hour strike beginning at 6am on Thursday after their calls to raise the minimum salary to $64,000 (£47,000) were rejected by management at parent company Condé Nast, which instead offered $45,000.

The New Yorker Union represents around 100 editorial staffers at the magazine, including copy editors, assistant editors, editors and web producers, but not staff writers.

A recent pay survey conducted by the union found that members at The New Yorker, one of America's most prestigious and respected magazines, had a median wage of $64,000 and that the company’s editorial assistants were paid a median of $42,000.

The gap between men's and women's median pay was close to $7,000, it concluded, adding that "women of colour earn a lower median salary than white women."

The New Yorker's median wage falls more than five per cent short of the $67,271 earned in 2020 by the typical New York City media worker, which the union based on industry estimates from Massachusetts Institute of Technology's living wage calculator.

“However much we love our jobs, that love is not enough to live on,” the union’s statement read.

“Simply, we deserve better,” added Natalie Meade, unit chair of The New Yorker Union and a fact checker at the publication, who called the figure offered "insulting". “They already know they’re underpaying us. Management consistently opts to devalue our work and our workers. We deserve an equitable pay structure and to close the pay gaps that exist in our workplace. We shouldn’t have to demand it.”

In a statement on Thursday, a New Yorker spokesperson said that proposals made during the recent bargaining sessions on salary were “initial offers.”

“We’ve had just two bargaining sessions related to economics: the union delivered a wage proposal at the end of 2020 and, in our first bargaining session of 2021, the company delivered a counter proposal. These were, on both sides, initial offers," a spokesperson told The Telegraph.

"It is our hope that, as opposed to resorting to actions like this one, the union will bargain in good faith and return a counter proposal, as is standard in negotiations. That way, we can work together productively to reach a final contract as quickly as possible.”

A number of New York-based journalists tweeted in solidarity.

“$45K starting salaries all but insures (sic) journalism remains an exclusive club for those with family/spousal wealth + extensive support systems. coverage will never improve if the same people are the gatekeepers,” wrote Fahima Haque, National Audiences Editor at the New York Times.

“You can't pay your rent with prestige,” tweeted Maya Kossoff at Codeword Agency.