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by Dana Severson

Publishers pay columnists by the hour, by the word and by the column.

David De Lossy/Digital Vision/Getty Images

Though they fall within the fairly broad category of journalists, columnists do more than just report the news. Instead, they interpret current events and offer their own personal take on them. Publishers, newspapers and other periodicals pay columnists specifically for their opinions. Wages vary by column and columnist.

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Fluchos Fluchos Luca 87830 Luca Noir 87830 In 2012, reporters and correspondents earned an average of $45,120 a year, or $21.69 an hour, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The top 10 percent of earners made more than $78,530 a year, while the bottom 10 percent earned less than $20,770 a year. But these figures include the salaries of reporters and correspondents in radio and television, as well as those for newspapers and periodicals, skewing the numbers.


Fluchos Fluchos 87830 87830 Luca Luca Noir While local newspaper columnists can earn anywhere from $25 to $35 an hour, the average is closer to $30 an hour, or $62,400 a year, according to Writer’s Market. Columnists with syndicated columns are paid much differently, earning a rate per insertion, which basically means they earn a fee for each newspaper that prints their column within its pages. Rates range between $4 and $35 per insertion, with an average of $8 per insertion.


Columnists writing feature columns earn different rates, as well. Rather than an hourly fee, publishers pay either by project or by word. Project rates range from as low as $75 to as high as $1,000, but the average is closer to $338 per article. Word rates start out at 10 cents per word and go up to $1.50 per word, with an average of 54 cents per word. For a 1,000-word article, you’re looking at a an average of $540.

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The BLS expects employment for reporters and correspondents to decline by as much as 8 percent through 2020. This is moving in an entirely different direction than the national average for all U.S. occupations, an estimated growth rate of 14 percent. The 8 percent decline equates to the loss of almost 4,000 jobs, so competition should remain strong for available positions.

About the Author

Luca 87830 Fluchos Fluchos Noir Luca 87830 Based in Minneapolis, Minn., Dana Severson has been writing marketing materials for small-to-mid-sized businesses since 2005. Prior to this, Severson worked as a manager of business development for a marketing company, developing targeted marketing campaigns for Big G, Betty Crocker and Pillsbury, among others.

Photo Credits

  • David De Lossy/Digital Vision/Getty Images
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Severson, Dana. "Wages for Columnists." Work -, Accessed 06 September 2018.
Severson, Dana. (n.d.). Wages for Columnists. Work - Retrieved from
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