It’s relatively easy to avoid being Twitter’s main character of the day, but some people are hellbent on leaning into chaos. This week, one of those people was Insider’s editor-in-chief Nicholas Carlson.
Carlson announced on Twitter on Tuesday that Insider would be “launching a series that demystifies people’s salaries” and implored his 30,000-plus followers to share their own salary histories. In what could not be a more natural response, many people asked Carlson what he makes. Carlson called out one of these inquiries as a “fun question” (is this fun? what the fuck is going on?), and then did absolutely nothing to demystify his own salary.
He went on to say that he’d “rather not say publicly for lots of practical reasons” and admitted that it “feels a little wimpy, but also prudent” to not be transparent. This man really just revealed on main that he does not give a single shit about the very project he’s touting. As if that wasn’t bad enough, he added that if he were to share his salary, he’d do so via “some third party I could trust to keep it anonymous and average it with other people in roles like mine.” Let me paraphrase that: “I’ll only share my salary if I can obfuscate it into oblivion.”
When asked why Carlson wouldn’t reveal his salary, a spokesperson for Insider said that “Insider does not comment on the salaries of its staff (Although we do include salary ranges in our job postings).” They added that their upcoming series about job pay “will be revealing the salary of specific jobs,” but that those “people who submit will be granted anonymity, out of respect for their right to privacy on the subject.”
There are myriad reasons as to why salary transparency is important, particularly in media—an industry where inequity is vast and wages are widely known to suck. Transparency helps eliminate unequal pay among workers, namely those who are women and/or POC, because it lets everyone know what the person next to them is making. Transparency also helps employees find level ground when they’re unionizing, giving them an idea of what the salary floor and ceiling should look like in their company. (This spreadsheet, rife with salaries of reporters, editors, and more, is beyond illuminating.) Insider acknowledged this, in part, in its description of the salary demystification project, claiming that its goal is to “create even more transparency for job seekers at a time when taboos around pay are quickly breaking down.” It even shared a Glassdoor stat that emphasizes that 70 percent of employees believe “salary transparency is good for employee satisfaction.”
Further, New York City—where both Insider and Carlson are based—is working to combat this exact inequity with a new mandate that will require most employers to specify salary ranges for all job postings or face a fine of up to $125,000. The mandate takes effect in April.
We all know that the most likely reason someone like Carlson will not share their salary is because it is wildly inflated—editors in chief in New York City usually make well into the six figures—and they don’t want people to drag them for making buckets of money. A pro-tip: Don’t throw bait in the water if you don’t want the fish to come for it.