The Editor-in-Chief of 'Insider' Makes $600,000 (With a $600,000 Bonus)

A spreadsheet leaked to Gawker listed the salaries of its entire editorial staff

NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 29:  Nicholas Carlson speaks onstage at IGNITION: Future of Media at Time Wa...
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Salary Journey

In late January, Insider’s Global Editor-in-Chief Nicholas Carlson announced a new series on Twitter called “Salary Journeys.” The anonymized collection of stories would “demystif[y] pay and compensation” from a range of “occupations, workers, experience levels, and salaries.” In the inaugural call for submissions, Insider explained they aimed to “create even more transparency for job seekers at a time when taboos around pay are quickly breaking down.”

When Carlson boosted the submissions request, an Insider tech reporter named Becky Peterson replied: “What is your salary, Nich?” The question had some weight, in part because the Insider Union has been conducting an internal pay transparency campaign, where workers could voluntarily submit their pay for comparison with their colleagues. (A spokesperson for the Insider Union told Gawker, after this post first published, that “a key reason” they organized last year was to “close salary gaps and ensure everyone is paid equally and equitably for their hard work.“). Carlson had not weighed in, and he also declined to do so on Twitter:

But according to a spreadsheet obtained by Gawker, Insider had been transparent about their staff pay — though inadvertently. As recently as November, a spreadsheet listing the names, job titles, start dates, salaries, bonuses, and bonus award dates of 640 Insider employees — the entire editorial staff — had been sitting on the company’s shared Google Drive, accessible to anyone with a company email. The document’s most recent “bonus dates” end on Nov. 15, 2021. But three sources told Gawker that their own salary information, and that of at least seven others, was accurate as of December.

“We believe in employing great people and paying them as well as we can,” Insider spokesperson Mario Ruiz told Gawker. “We try to pay at the ‘high end of market’ for each person's role, responsibilities, and effectiveness, from entry-level through our senior team.”

Carlson’s salary, for those wondering about his salary journey, is $600,000, with an annual bonus of $600,000 (the spreadsheet indicates that his last bonus went out on Jan. 1, 2019). Pretty good for the leader of the newsroom. According to the Economic Research Institute, the average newspaper editor-in-chief in the U.S. makes $107,766 a year, with an average bonus of $3,933. Glassdoor’s estimated average salary for an editor-in-chief in New York City is $95,936, with a base pay of $75,968 and an average additional pay of $19,969. Of course, the title’s meaning varies, and not all EICs are in charge of 600-odd people, like Carlson. But still, pretty good.

In a comment to Gawker, Insider Inc. CEO Henry Blodget wrote that “Carlson is one of the most talented and effective builder-editors in the industry. He joined us 14 years ago, after starting his career as a writer at Gawker earning $12 per post with no benefits. [Ed. Note: Point taken.] Since then, he has helped us grow into a leading global news organization with 650 journalists. Our industry is intensely competitive, and, like all the other talented people at Insider, Nicholas can choose where he works. We are fortunate to have him and everyone else on our team.”

In fairness, Insider’s lower-ranking editors also make much more than the reported median which, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, was $63,400 for editors in 2020. To protect their privacy, we will not be disclosing the names or salaries of anyone below Carlson (with one exception). But the lower-ranking editors-in-chiefs made between $202,274 and $399,999.84 a year, with bonuses ranging from $40,000 to $125,000. And at least four dozen top editors — whose titles ranged from executive editor, managing editor, bureau chief, and deputy editor — take home salaries between $175,000 and $300,000.

The editors beneath them trend in the $120,000s to $140,000, as do the senior correspondents. Regular editors, some senior reporters, and some producers and designers clock in below those. The majority of the writers, meanwhile, range from $70,000 to low $100,000, and the junior reporters trend towards the pay floor of $60,000. (Only U.K. writers and part-time fellows get less than that). Josh Barro, one of Insider's most visible employees, was the site’s highest-paid writer, at a salary of $220,000 (he left the site in December to start a podcast).

Insider declined to confirm their operating budget, but a source told Gawker that the newsroom got flush after Axel Springer bought the company for $442 million in 2015. Axel Springer is also an investor in Bustle Digital Group, which owns this website, so joke’s on me really. Gotta ask for a raise.

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