Amid increased turnover and tightening budgets begotten by an ever-challenging financial situation, editorial salaries in the magazine industry remained more-or-less stable in 2016 compared to the year before, while female editors continue to be undercompensated, on average, compared to their male colleagues.
According to Folio:'s annual editorial salary survey, conducted over the course of 2016 in partnership with Readex Research, top-level editors earned slightly less last year than they did in 2015 — $86,000 in median base salary, a decrease of 3.3 percent from the year prior. Moving down the hierarchy, while base salaries increased significantly for editors at the managing or associate levels, fewer bonuses meant increases in total compensation were more modest: 2.3 percent for managing editors, and 7.4 percent for associate editors.
This could partially be the result of a pair of well established industry trends: editors being asked to take on additional responsibilities without a commensurate bump in compensation, and companies eschewing older, more experienced editors in favor of the younger, cheaper, and more digitally minded. At every level, editors who reported working more than 50 hours per week saw considerably smaller year-over-year increases in compensation than those working 50 hours or less per week.
When looking past the financial data and purely examining the number of respondents in each sub-category — bearing in mind that there were 15.4 percent fewer participants in the survey this year than last year (1,060 in total) — editors-in-chief and managing editors are, in general, younger and less experienced than they were a year ago.
As with previous years, at every level, editors of mass consumer magazines, as well as those based in the New York City area, far out-earn their counterparts in the B2B and niche sectors, and those based elsewhere in the country, although both of these trends appear far less pronounced in entry-level positions.
Similarly, editors who report working for magazines that primarily publish on the web significantly outearn editors who say their magazines are still primarily read in print, a trend that is magnified at the editor-in-chief level. Participants in the survey self-identify their primary platform as either print or digital, and, unsurprisingly, a greater share of survey respondents identify as primarily digital editors with each passing year.
While not as pronounced at the managing editor level as the others, the most frustrating determining factor of editorial salaries continues to persist: gender. Male editors-in-chief, for example, outearned their female counterparts by an average of nearly $14,000 in 2016 — $94,000 to $80,200, a difference of 17.2 percent. It's worth noting, perhaps, that the gender gap has narrowed slightly since last year at every level, especially among managing editors, where the difference is down to 6.2 percent in total compensation.
Click through the slideshow for a detailed breakdown of the results, or simply click the thumbnails below.
Data for the 2016 Folio: Editorial Salary Survey was collected via online survey over a period of three months in 2016 in conjunction with Readex Research, who tabulated the results. In total, 1,060 magazine media professionals completed the 41-question survey. The margin of error based on the tabulated responses is +/- 3.1 percentage points at the 95 percent confidence level.