The field of journalism is often a subject of fascination for many people. The thought of chasing down leads and writing impactful stories is alluring for those with a passion for writing and a nose for news. However, the journalism industry is vast and varied, with each country having its own unique landscape and salaries for journalists. This article will delve into the journalist salary landscape in South Africa, examining the different factors that influence salaries, and the average salaries for different types of journalists.

Understanding the South African Journalism Landscape

South Africa’s history is inextricably linked to the struggle for freedom and democracy, which meant that journalism played a crucial role in the country’s political landscape. The country has a rich history of journalism, with publications such as Drum Magazine, which was launched in the 1950s and became a voice for black South Africans during apartheid.

Today, the journalism industry in South Africa is multifaceted and diverse. With over 300 newspapers, 200 radio stations and numerous television channels, the industry is constantly evolving to meet the needs of the public.

The Role of Journalists in South Africa

Journalists in South Africa play a pivotal role in keeping the public informed about political, social and economic developments. They are tasked with holding those in power accountable and ensuring transparency in governmental affairs. With a free and robust press being a key aspect of democracy, journalists in South Africa are an essential part of the country’s democratic system.

During apartheid, journalists often risked their lives to report on the atrocities being committed by the government. Many were arrested, tortured and even killed for their reporting. Today, journalists continue to face challenges such as censorship, intimidation and attacks on press freedom.

Different Types of Journalism in South Africa

Journalism in South Africa can be divided into several categories, including print, broadcast, online and radio journalism. Print journalism refers to newspapers and magazines, while broadcast journalism includes television and radio news. Online journalism has become increasingly popular with the rise of digital media, with many publications having an online presence.

The country has a diverse range of publications, from mainstream newspapers such as The Sunday Times and The Mail & Guardian, to community newspapers that serve specific areas and demographics.

The Impact of Digital Media on Journalism

The impact of digital media has been sweeping across the journalism industry in South Africa. With the rise of social media and digital platforms, journalists have had to adapt to a rapidly changing landscape. With the advent of digital media, journalists are now expected to be multi-skilled in various areas, including social media management, video editing and podcasting.

However, digital media has also brought about challenges such as the spread of fake news and the decline of traditional print media. Many newspapers have had to shut down or reduce their staff due to declining readership and advertising revenue.

Despite these challenges, digital media has also provided opportunities for journalists to reach a wider audience and tell stories in new and innovative ways. Online publications such as Daily Maverick and News24 have become popular sources of news for many South Africans.

Factors Influencing Journalist Salaries in South Africa

The salaries of journalists in South Africa are influenced by several factors, including education and qualifications, years of experience, location and cost of living, and media organisation size and type.

Education and Qualifications

The level of education and qualifications of journalists plays a significant role in determining their salaries. Those with a bachelor’s degree in journalism or a related field tend to earn more than those without this qualification. However, it’s important to note that a degree is not the only factor that determines a journalist’s salary. In addition to a degree, journalists who have completed additional courses or training in their field may also earn higher salaries. These courses may include specialised training in areas such as investigative journalism or multimedia journalism.

Furthermore, journalists who have won awards for their work may also be more likely to earn higher salaries. This is because awards are a clear indication of a journalist’s skill and dedication to their craft.

Years of Experience

Journalists with more years of experience typically earn higher salaries than those without. This is because experience is highly valued in the industry and is an indicator of success and knowledge in the field. Journalists with more experience are often more in demand.

However, it’s important to note that not all experience is created equal. Journalists who have worked for well-respected media organisations or who have covered high-profile stories may be more likely to earn higher salaries than those who have worked for smaller or less well-known organisations.

Location and Cost of Living

Journalist salaries in South Africa are also impacted by the location in which they work and the cost of living in that area. Journalists who work in major cities such as Johannesburg and Cape Town typically earn higher salaries than those working in smaller towns. This is because the cost of living in these larger cities is often higher.

However, it’s important to note that journalists who work in smaller towns or rural areas may have the opportunity to cover unique stories that are not covered by journalists in larger cities. This can provide valuable experience and may lead to higher salaries in the future.

Media Organisation Size and Type

The size and type of media organisation also play a role in determining journalist salaries. Larger media organisations, such as those with a national or international presence, typically offer higher salaries than smaller, local organisations. Additionally, private media organisations may offer higher salaries than those in the public sector.

However, it’s important to note that working for a smaller or local media organisation may provide valuable experience and opportunities for growth. Journalists who work for smaller organisations may have the opportunity to cover a wider range of stories and to take on more responsibilities, which can lead to higher salaries in the future.

In conclusion, while there are several factors that influence journalist salaries in South Africa, it’s important to remember that a journalist’s salary is not the only measure of their success or worth in the industry. A journalist’s dedication to their craft, their ability to tell important stories, and their commitment to ethical journalism are all important factors that contribute to their success in the field.

» Find out: The average news anchor salary!

Average Journalist Salaries in South Africa

The world of journalism is an exciting and dynamic one, with a range of different roles and responsibilities available for those who are passionate about reporting the news. However, as with any industry, the salaries of journalists in South Africa can vary widely depending on a number of factors. These include the size and type of the media organisation they work for, their level of experience, and their qualifications.

Despite these variations, there are some general guidelines that can be used to estimate the average salaries for different types of journalists in South Africa. Below is a breakdown of the average salaries for entry-level, mid-career, and senior journalists, as well as freelance journalists.

Entry-Level Journalist Salaries

Entry-level journalists in South Africa are those who are just starting out in the industry, and who may have recently graduated from a journalism program at a tertiary institution. These journalists can expect to earn between R100,000 and R150,000 per year, depending on their qualifications and the size of the media organisation they work for.

Despite the relatively low starting salary, entry-level journalists have the opportunity to gain valuable experience and build their professional network, which can help them to progress in their careers and earn higher salaries in the future.

Mid-Career Journalist Salaries

Journalists with three to five years of experience in the field are considered mid-career, and can expect to earn higher salaries than entry-level journalists. The average salary for mid-career journalists in South Africa is between R150,000 and R250,000 per year, although this can vary depending on their qualifications and the size of the media organisation they work for.

Mid-career journalists have typically built up a strong portfolio of work and have established themselves as reliable and skilled reporters. They may also have developed a specialisation in a particular area of journalism, such as politics, sports, or business.

Senior Journalist Salaries

Senior journalists in South Africa are those who have been working in the industry for 10 or more years, and who have developed a wealth of experience and expertise. These journalists can expect to earn upwards of R500,000 per year, depending on the size and type of the media organisation they work for.

Senior journalists often take on leadership roles within their organisations, such as managing editors or news directors. They may also be responsible for mentoring and training younger journalists, and for overseeing the production of high-quality news content.

Freelance Journalist Earnings

Freelance journalists in South Africa are those who work on a contract basis, rather than being employed full-time by a media organisation. The earnings of freelance journalists can vary widely, depending on the type of work they do and the clients they have.

On average, freelance journalists can earn anywhere between R500 and R5,000 per article, depending on the publication they write for and the length and complexity of their article. Freelance journalists may also earn additional income from other sources, such as speaking engagements or book deals.

Despite the challenges of working as a freelance journalist, many individuals find the flexibility and independence of this career path to be highly rewarding.

» Explore Further: Unveil a Diplomat’s Earnings

Comparing Journalist Salaries Across Different Media Platforms

Journalist salaries also differ based on the type of media platform they work on.

Print Journalism Salaries

Print journalists typically earn less than their broadcast or online counterparts. The average salary for a print journalist in South Africa varies between R100,000 and R250,000 per year.

Broadcast Journalism Salaries

Broadcast journalists, including television and radio journalists, typically earn higher salaries than print journalists. The average salary for a broadcast journalist in South Africa varies between R150,000 and R500,000 per year.

Online Journalism Salaries

The monetary value of online content is increasing, and as such, online journalists are in high demand. The average salary for an online journalist in South Africa varies between R150,000 and R300,000 per year.

Radio Journalism Salaries

Radio journalism is also a lucrative field in South Africa. The average salary for a radio journalist varies between R150,000 and R500,000 per year, depending on the size of the media organisation.


Journalism in South Africa is a diverse and complex industry, with salaries varying widely based on factors such as education, experience, location and type of media organisation. While entry-level salaries may be lower, mid-career and senior-level journalists can expect to earn comfortable salaries, and those who choose to freelance can earn good money on a per-article basis. Broadcast and online journalists typically earn higher salaries than print journalists, reflecting the shift towards digital media and the increasing demand for online content.

How much do you need?
*Representative example: Estimated repayments of a loan of R30,000 over 36 months at a maximum interest rate including fees of 27,5% APR would be R1,232.82 per month. Arcadia Finance is an online loan broker and not a lender. Our service is free, and we work with NCR licensed lenders in South Africa. Interest rates charged by lenders can start as low as 20% APR, including an initiation and service fee determined by the lender. The interest rate offered depends on the applicants' credit score and other factors at the lender's discretion.

Loan amount R100 - R250,000. Repayment terms can range from 3 - 72 months. Minimum APR is 5% and maximum APR is 60%.