Journalists and media personalities are intrinsic to the consumption of information in our daily lives. Not only do they keep us entertained; we rely on them to bring us news about events transpiring around the world, air opinions or deliberate on issues in ways we are sometimes unable to do ourselves, and score interviews with people that matter. They know how to keep the general public interested in what they have to say, which in turn generates a lot of money for their employers. As such, it is no surprise that they are very high up on the earning ladder. Below, we have compiled a list of top 10 highest-paid journalists and media personalities in the world.
Highest Paid Journalists and Media Personalities
1. Judy Sheindlin
This sharp-witted woman is known for her matter of fact opinions which she brazenly airs in her courtroom and across national daytime television, as the host of the long-running television show, Judge Judy. Slowly, Judy has worked her way up to ridiculous paychecks; she is one of the most popular media personalities in the world.
With over 5000 episodes under her belt, Judy sold the rights to her show to CBS for $100 million, which when added to her annual $47 million salaries, shot her to the top of the earning ladder. Few shows can boast of drawing in 10 million viewers daily, it’s no surprise Judy is valued so highly, and after more than two decades on the air, it’s impossible to claim that she is not a master of the game.
Judy’s career didn’t begin on TV. She started out as a corporate lawyer for a cosmetics firm before becoming a prosecution lawyer in New York, and then a criminal court judge. Soon enough, she was promoted to supervising judge in Manhattan’s family court, cementing her reputation as a no-nonsense judge. Her popularity let the media take notice of her, she was offered a deal to star in a reality courtroom show, and Judge Judy was born.
Judy holds the world record for the longest-serving judge in the history of courtroom-based programming. Her show has been nominated for 15 Daytime Emmy Awards, three of which it has won. All these only help to affirm Judy’s fame and status as a media personality worth her chops.
2. Ellen DeGeneres
Ellen Degeneres is easily one of the funniest women on air. The American comedian, actress, producer, writer, and television host is popularly known for her syndicated talk show, The Ellen DeGeneres Show, which has been running since 2003. In its very first season, the show won 4 out of 11 Daytime Emmy Awards it was nominated for, and presently holds a total of 25 Emmys.
Ellen’s satirical and observational humor carried her from stand up comedy to her very first television show, and decades later, it made her current project one of the most successful programs in viewing history. Millions of viewers from all corners of the earth tune in to watch Ellen dazzle and entertain them with her freakishly charming personality.
The comedy queen regularly earns eight-figure checks from hosting her show and recently made history as the first woman to be paid $20 million by Netflix to do a comedy special. Ellen earned $87,500,000 in 2018 alone, making her the second highest paid media personality in the world. She certainly deserved every cent of it, having worked really hard and struggled to overcome all kinds of discrimination to get to where she is now.
3. Dr. Phil McGraw
You can’t make a list of highest-paid journalists and media personalities in the world and leave out this fella. Philip Calvin McGraw is an American media personality, psychologist, author, and host of the famous television show, Dr. Phil. His rise to popularity began in 1998, after Oprah brought him on her show, to show gratitude for the excellent work his consulting firm did to get her ready for her Amarillo Texas Beef trial, a case she ended up winning. After that, he became a regular on the show, offering expert life and relationship advice.
A year later, Philip published his first book, a certified bestseller – Life Strategies. He went on to publish three more which did well in the market. Riding on the back of this success, he created a production company and began his own syndicated TV show, Dr. Phil. It was an advice show, on which he doled out helpful solutions to his guest’s problems while analyzing the issue at hand. It began airing in September 2002 and today, it is one of the highest-grossing syndicated shows.
The success of his show has made Philip one of the top earners in the industry. He was paid a whopping salary of $77,500,000 in 2018 alone.
4. Ryan Seacrest
How Ryan Seacrest joined this league of highest-paid journalists and media personalities in the world has remained a surprise for many people. The American television host, on-air personality, and producer is most recognized as the host of American Idol, the singing competition show, as well as American Top 40, a syndicated music countdown show. He has also been a host on Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rocking Eve and signed a more permanent deal as a co-host of Live With Kelly and Ryan.
Ryan is a man who dons many hats and pulls them off effortlessly, such as his production projects which have earned him an Emmy and several nominations. Since his career as a media personality kicked off in the early 1990s, the ruggedly handsome presenter has worked his way up the professional ladder, moving from job to job, until he got to the point where he became one of the most respected faces in the industry.
This host is also the producer of the popular reality series, Keeping Up with the Kardashian. In 2018 alone, Ryan earned $74,000,000, elevating him to the top of the highest paid media personality food chain. This figure is only going to increase as his popularity grows and his successes keep piling up on each other.
5. Steve Harvey
Steve Harvey is a popular American comedian, author, producer, television host, and on-air personality. He is the man behind The Steve Harvey Morning Show, Little Big Shorts, Celebrity Family Feud, and Family Feud. Hilarious Harvey is also the host of Showtime at the Apollo and has hosted the Miss Universe Pageant. He has won several awards for his shows including Emmy Award, Marconi Award, and an NAACP Image Award.
When he started doing stand up in the ‘80s, he was homeless and sleeping in his car, but things turned around for better after he won a national comedy competition and secured his first concrete gig. He went on to create and star in his own eponymous show. That aside, he has starred in movies like The Fighting Temptations and Racing Stripes. Steve authored the bestselling book, Act Like A Lady, Think Like A Man.
Each of Harvey’s shows has delivered generous ratings, establishing him as one of the most seasoned hosts in the world. With $44,000,000 being pocketed annually by way of salaries, Harvey is one of highest paid media personalities on earth.
6. Anderson Cooper
You don’t have to search hard to find why Anderson Cooper is one of the highest-paid journalists and media personalities around. The American journalist, author, and television personality is the lead anchor of the CNN news show, Anderson Cooper 360°. Although he hails from a wealthy family, Cooper worked hard to make it on his own. As a teenager, he worked as a fashion model for brands like Calvin Klein and Ralph Lauren, before deciding to study journalism. After graduation, he scored an internship with Channel One. He moved to Vietnam to work as a fact checker for one year, before returning to work as one of ABC’s news correspondents, eventually landing the job of co-anchor. He resumed at CNN in 2001 and continues to work there at present.
One of the many balls that Cooper shuffles is his syndicated daytime talk show called Anderson Live, which brings in millions of viewers. Cooper’s main area of expertise is political issues and anchoring breaking news. His annual salary check is reputed to be well within eight figures, and his current net worth stands at $100 million, making him the richest news anchor.
7. Diane Sawyer
Diane Sawyer is one of the most famous journalists in the world, and the anchor of ABC World News, a flagship program by ABC News, as well as the co-anchor of Good Morning America. Diane’s career has been full of astounding achievements and successes that have helped her mark her place as one of the most important voices of our generation.
Lady Sawyer didn’t really set out to work in media. After graduation, she went off to Law School, where she changed her mind about her future career and decided to pursue journalism instead. She began her career as a weather reporter at a local television station in Louisville, then she packed her bags and headed for Washington DC, where she found a job as an assistant to White House Deputy Press Secretary, Jerry Warran. She was part of the Nixon-Ford transition team after Nixon resigned as President.
Diane joined CBS News in 1978 as a reporter, rising through the ranks to become co-anchor of the CBS Early Morning News. She made history as the first female correspondent on the show, 60 Minutes in 1984. Five years later, she joined ABC as co-anchor of Primetime Live, before being asked to co-host Good Morning America. Diane makes truckloads of money annually as a journalist and her net worth is estimated to be $80 million, evidence of an illustrious career.
8. Matt Lauer
It shouldn’t surprise anyone that Matt Lauer is still counted among the highest-paid journalists and media personalities across the globe. Even though he is no longer active in the profession, it is hard to forget the things he accomplished thereof. Matt was a leading journalist and co-anchor of Today Show on NBC. After securing a degree in Communication and Media Arts, Matt launched his career working as a producer of a local news show in West Virginia. He has hosted shows like Made in New York across several states.
Moving on, he worked at ESPN, co-hosting Today in New York, then going on to work as a news reader on the show, Today. Upon becoming a full-time host of Today Show, Matt proceeded to dazzle audiences with his good looks, intelligence, humor, and amazing interviews. In 1998, he created the show, Where in the World is Matt Lauer? The show ended in 2011 after many successful years. Matt covered everything Olympics for the NBC, as well as hosting the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. He earned a shocking $23 million annually for his journalistic efforts until in November 2017 when his contract was terminated following the allegations of sexual misconduct against him.
9. Robin Roberts
Robin Roberts has made a name for herself in the media industry as a journalist that should be taken seriously. She is the co-host of Good Morning America, the ABC flagship show. She began her career as a sports anchor on radio stations and local news channels, before joining ESPN in 1990 as a sportscaster. After giving it fifteen good years, Robin left ESPN, taking her talents to Good Morning America. Ratings drastically improved after she joined the network.
Robin earns an outrageous $18 million annual salary as a journalist at ABC where she currently works.
10. Sean Hannity
Most people would recognize Sean Hannity as one of Fox News political commentators and show anchor. He is the man behind The Sean Hannity Show which airs on radio. He began his media career hosting a talk show for his university’s radio station. After graduation, he went to work as a news reporter for some small sized stations in Atlanta and Alabama, before Fox News offered him a position as co-anchor on a debate-style show, Hannity & Colmes. The Fox commentator is known for his outlandish and sometimes offensive opinions on sensitive issues like voters fraud, Obama’s birthplace saga, as well as his unabashed coverage of Donald Trump.
Of course, Hannity shouldn’t be ignored in any list of highest-paid journalists and media personalities. He earns as much as $29 million annually for the journalistic duties he does for Fox.