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Jewish World Review May 7, 2002 / 25 Iyar, 5762

Art Buchwald

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Consumer Reports

Salary negotiations | I recently saw in the news where Peter Jennings is negotiating a new contract and Walt Disney, known as the "Mouse House," is asking him to cut back on his $10 million a year contract.

The people in TV news are making so much money that instead of being covered in the show business pages of the newspaper, they are now in the business section.

Katie Couric, we know, makes $15 million a year. Dan Rather makes $7 million. Tom Brokaw garners $7 million, and Mike Wallace earns a mere $5 million.

Wallace said, "I don't make much money, but I do it for the psychic thrill."

Eric Steiner, the gardening writer for the Daily Bugle, was incensed.

"How come they always put the salary of a TV news star after his name but they never print the salary of a reporter after his byline?"

I said, "Probably the reason is that a TV personality makes so much money that everyone is envious. Newspapers are not going to print how much a newspaperman makes next to his byline because no one could care less. By the way, how much do you make?"

"At the moment I make $40,000 a year-but my contract comes up in June and I'm going to ask for another $50 a week."

"That sounds like it's in the ballpark."

"They want to cut me back by $35 a week."

"Don't let them do it. They need you more than you need them."

"That is what my business manager told me," Steiner said. "I put azaleas on the map."

"What is your strategy?"

"I'm watching the Jennings negotiations very carefully. The Mouse House tried to take Ted Koppel for a ride, and they came out with mud all over their faces. Why can't a newspaper reporter do the same thing?"

"I guess the best way to do it is to have a letter-writing campaign. You could ask anyone who is interested in pansies to write the editor a letter."

Steiner looked happy. "Don't forget, I broke the story about the Texas beetle invading dogwood trees."

"How could we forget it?"

"In my contract I'm going to ask for Blue Cross just like they gave to Katie Couric."

"It was the first thing she asked for," I said.

"Why do you think the public isn't interested in what I make?"

I replied, "The only thing I can guess is that you don't have a pretty face."

"Neither does Larry King and he makes $7 million a year."

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03/26/02: Au Revoir to Soft Money
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03/19/02: Celebrity kickers
03/15/02: A Mickey Mouse solution
03/13/02: Shadow government in the sandbox
03/07/02: The Way It Is
03/05/02: Not telling the truth
03/01/02: Book flogging
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