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kfingerman's avatar

How much money do you think Randy Cohen (NYTimes' "The Ethicist") makes?

Asked by kfingerman (992points) August 24th, 2009

This may be inane and is certainly none of my business, but it’s a question of long-standing discussion in my house. We read his column every week and love it…but it can’t take that long to research and write it. Still, he does have a syndicated column in the New York Times. Seems like he’s got to make a good living, but he’s not doing all that much. Any guesses? Randy, are you a Flutherite and wanting to tell everyone how much cash you take home?

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13 Answers

marinelife's avatar

I’m guessing somewhat less than these guys

Richard Johnson
“Page Six” gossip columnist

Thomas Friedman
Columnist, the New York Times
(plus $40,000 per speaking engagement)

Will Shortz makes $90,000 so maybe in that range.

PerryDolia's avatar

If he lives in New York, a complete SWAG would be $125,000 – $150,000 per year.

kfingerman's avatar

I like the Shortz analogy, but that guy gets a crossword in the paper every day. Cohen is in the Times Magazine weekly. I know Shortz doesn’t write the puzzles, but he edits them extensively and writes about half the clues. Friedman writes thoughtfully and originally about current events many times a week, is enormously influential, and is a major draw to the Times, so I don’t think that’s a very legit comparison. As for the gossip column, I don’t know anything about that…but again, I bet it brings a lot of people to buy the paper and/or go to it online, so they’d pay him accordingly

janbb's avatar

I just googled Randy Cohen and while it doesn’t give any specifics as to salary, it does mention that he works occasionally for NPR and has also written a play. He is divorced from the writer and activist Katha Pollitt and has one daughter. My guess would be that he makes somewhere in the Will Shortz or slightly above range and that he is supplementing with other free-lance writing and speaking. His column is quite popular although I agree, it doesn’t seem terribly hard to research or write.

augustlan's avatar

The puzzle guy makes 90k? I really need to rethink my career goals…

kfingerman's avatar

I think you need to move those italics around @Augustian…It’s because he’s THE puzzle guy that Will Shortz makes the loot. He’s the best. As much as I love Cohen’s coumn, I think there are a ton of people out there who could do a comparable job.

augustlan's avatar

@kfingerman Ok, you do have a point there. :)

Buttonstc's avatar


Did you know that Will Shortz went to a college which allowed him to choose and create the curriculum for his degree? He has a degree in Enigmatology.

He lives, breathes, eats and sleeps puzzles and freely admits to how fortunately life has treated him since he gets to make a living at doing what he loves most (and truth be told,) would do for free. But shhhh don’t tell the Times that.

He was featured in a charming documentary recently about the annual crossword puzzle championship tournament (which he also created when everybody thought he was nuts and who would come from all over for that?)

He is really a fascinating and fun guy.

The name of the movie is “Worsplay” and is prob available for rental at your nearest video store. Numerous famous people including John Stewart and Bill Clinton are also featured. I loved it and want to see it again.

Buttonstc's avatar

Edit: Obviously I meant to type Wordplay.

Dang this iPhone which can’t scroll the text box for re-reading and making corrections.

janbb's avatar

@Buttonstc We saw that movie too and it really is a charming one. My husband does the Sunday puzzle in ink.

kfingerman's avatar

Ditto on “wordplay” being wonderful…

augustlan's avatar

I wanted to see Wordplay, and somehow never got around to it. One of these days, I will certainly watch it.

jca's avatar

i saw wordplay and it was amazing how fast people do those puzzles, and how into it they are.

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