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Editor highlights wages ‘scandal’ as journalists strike

A weekly newspaper editor who yesterday published a front page story about his staff taking part in strike action today has revealed his own salary in a bid to highlight the “scandal” of low wages in the industry.

Journalists at the South Yorkshire Times and Johnston-Press owned sister titles went on indefinite strike action today in a dispute over job cuts.

Times editor Jim Oldfield, whose own job is under threat, once again published the strike story on the newspaper’s front page yesterday, following a similar front-page story a fortnight ago.

And speaking at a union meeting last night, the former national newspaper journalist revealed that he is paid just £25,500 despite having chalked up 37 years in the industry.

Jim reportedly told the meeting: “How can we continue to attract and keep the people we need to get the news stories that keep this country free? It’s a scandal.”

Journalists on the picket line in Doncaster

As well as revealing his own salary, he also said trainee journalists at South Yorkshire Newspapers were on £14,000; page designers £15,000; senior reporters £18,000; and assistant editors £24,000.

The union voted unanimously for strike action last week following the company’s annoncement of 18 job cuts across its South Yorkshire Newspapers division.

As well as Jim’s post, the jobs of sports editor of the Doncaster Free Press and editor of the Goole Courier are also at risk of redundancy with the Goole and Selby Times operations to be merged under one editor.

Chris Morley National Union of Journalists northern and midlands organiser said: ” It’s inconceivable not to have a story which involves the paper itself not printed in the paper when dealing with such important matter.

“The company plans to halve the team producing the best performing weekly paper in the region – the South Yorkshire Times. This is a paper that has maintained its circulation, influence and readership which shows that if you offer people top quality local journalism in print, they will still pay for it.

“The NUJ is completely committed to fighting these proposals and saving our members jobs. We hope the company now wakes up and withdraws the cuts proposals.”

The changes would see the Doncaster-based editor-in-chief of South Yorkshire Newspapers Graeme Huston taking over responsibility for the Mexborough-based South Yorkshire Times.

Mr Morley said the strike would continue until managment came up with a ‘sensible solution’ rather than ‘salami slicing’ the number of journalists.

Johnston Press had not responded to requests for a comment at the time of publication.

15 comments

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  • July 15, 2011 at 10:48 am
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    If only there were more editors like Jim this industry may not be in the mess it is today. Too many of our bosses have not had the balls to stand up to silly jobs cuts – while protecting their own positions.

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  • July 15, 2011 at 11:13 am
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    I fear Jim’s bravery will end in an industrial tribunal. Newpaper managements are embarrassed by the truth being told.

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  • July 15, 2011 at 11:16 am
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    While the job cuts are serious and yet another nail in decent news gathering operations, of more import here are the salary levels.

    They are an utter disgrace. Well done Jim for taking such a controversial stance …. I wonder how many other editors avidly protecting such crass salaries will have the backbone to put their heads above the trenches?

    Little wonder it’s a business being strangled to death

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  • July 15, 2011 at 12:12 pm
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    Right-on Jim! It’s a disgrace what talented journalists are(n’t) paid. Editors – on a little bit more – are generally too scared to do anything about it. They’re mortgages come first.

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  • July 15, 2011 at 1:06 pm
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    Good old Jim Oldfield – never a man to mince his words!
    I bet JP management were squirming with the strike story as front page news on one of its own titles.
    Like ‘northernhack’ says, it’s refreshing to see management standing up for their staff structure and pay, rather than rolling over and letting them tickle their bellies, only to eventually be left in the doghouse, despite their subservience, as is usually the case!

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  • July 15, 2011 at 1:34 pm
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    Indefinite strike! That’s brave. Solidarity. Glad to see journalists standing up against their greedy owners! And it’s about time readers realised how good-will and devotion to the cause is abused by companies, so they can have a healthy profit.

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  • July 15, 2011 at 1:54 pm
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    I started out at Bullivant Media as a trainee – paid a whopping £11,200 a year. As I understand it this has not increased since then. The wages in this industry – especially considering the hours we have to put in – are a joke.

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  • July 15, 2011 at 3:28 pm
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    I’m sorry but the below comment is somewhat of a huge embelishment! not only is it incorrect but it also highlights the problem with some of todays journo’s. They seem to just make things up!
    In this region there are papers such as the Doncaster Free Press, Barnsley Chronicle, Rotherham Advertiser to name a couple, these products far out circulate, influence and readership than that of the SY Times, which i believe has gone from 70k plus sales to around 6k if that! God only knows what they are on at the moment!
    Influence, readership and circulation in our region has firmly swung towards magazines rather than tired old papers peggling trash i.e (News of the World), journo’s need to get back to some solid truth telling and go get a job with the magazines who would look after them better anyway!

    “The company plans to halve the team producing the best performing weekly paper in the region – the South Yorkshire Times. This is a paper that has maintained its circulation, influence and readership which shows that if you offer people top quality local journalism in print, they will still pay for it.

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  • July 15, 2011 at 3:29 pm
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    Good luck to all on strike at SYN and fair play to Jim Oldfield for highlighting how poorly staff there are paid.

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  • July 15, 2011 at 3:38 pm
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    I thought Journalism was based around free speech and giving a voice to the people? Thanks for deleting comments which are based on balanced views and opinions.

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  • July 15, 2011 at 4:19 pm
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    Money shouldn’t be an issue really if they are on strike as they won’t get paid whilst on strike. Pointless revealing the wages if you think about it!

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  • July 15, 2011 at 5:15 pm
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    I’m on £16,500 or thereabouts (unpaid furlough days etc). I could earn the same stacking shelves in Tesco. That’s how much my 20 years in the industry are appreciated by Newsquest.
    Good luck to the lads and lasses in Donny.

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  • July 15, 2011 at 5:55 pm
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    The public needs to know how poorly some journalists are paid, particularly the trainees on weeklies. It’s a great job but the pay has never been good. I started on £4 15 shillings 46 years ago and when I had paid for my lodgings had 15 shillings (now 75 pence) remaining to live on each week. (Thankfully in those days there were lots of free dinners to go to).
    My best advice for trainees would be to join the NUJ. It could be the best money you have ever spent. You only need to be helped with one serious problem and your subs (subscription)will be more than repaid.
    Over the years I had lots of people on work experience beside me who have expressed horror at the poor pay that exists in our profession. One graduate said to me: “I wouldn’t get out of bed for less than £20,000pa.” Well, dear, I’m afraid you’ll be spending a lot of time between the sheets or duvets. I’m not on £20,000 and, as I said, have been a journalist for 46 years – and loved almost every minute.

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  • July 21, 2011 at 12:17 pm
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    JP maintain that The SYT has maintained its circulation, influence and readership, just is not true.
    I can remember when the Stocksbridge edition of the SYT had a bigger distribution figure than the SYT has altogether now.

    Since JP has taken over, like all the other titles they have take over, all the figures have dropped significantly.

    Because of this, the independant Barnsley Chronicle is now sold in Mexborough and the Dearne Valley, and they have plans to move in even further as it is becoming so popular, at the expense of SYT and DFP.

    A number of years ago the every houshold in this area took the SYT, but now, I hardly know anyone who takes it. The proposals by JP can only going to make matters worse.

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