30 July 2014

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Journalists reveal earnings of between £5k and £90k

One in four journalists taking part in a survey about how much they get paid earn less than £20k a year.

More than 300 journalists have so far taken part in the UKjournopay new study: How are journalists being rewarded?  which is being carried out by Francois Nel, director of the journalism leaders programme at the University of Central Lancashire in Preston.

Francois designed the survey after South Yorkshire Times editor Jim Oldfield, who is currently on strike in a protest over job cuts, revealed that he is paid just £25,500 despite 37 years’ experience in journalism on both national and local titles.

Through the study journalists are being asked to reveal their full-time equivalent salary. Initial findings have found the scale ranged from £5,000 to a massive £90,000 per year. The low figures are thought to account for freelancers but official numbers for these will not be correlated until  the survey is complete.

Almost half of those taking part earn between 20k and 30k, with a quarter of the respondents earning more than £30K. Amongst these are 15  people who earn £50K or more, four of whom earn more than £90k.

24pc of the respondents said they earned less than £20k per year though many of those have less than three years’ experience. 

Francois, who called the outcome so far ‘very interesting’, said: “There’s a lot of talk about imbalance between the supply and the demand for the skills that professional journalists offer.

“And with that in mind, this study seeks to find out just what the current market price actually is. The enthusiastic response to the survey we’ve had so far suggests that I’m not alone in wanting to find that out.” 

The majority of those taking the survey work for regional weekly and daily newspapers. Other respondents work for B2B magazines, web based news sites, national newspapers and consumer magazines.

The largest group of respondents, 46.4pc, came from newspaper reporters. Editors and sub-editors were the next top two respondents at 13.1pc and 12.4pc.

Francois continued: “Given that there are an estimated 40,000 journalists in the UK, we still need at least 120 more respondents for us to have reasonable confidence in the findings.”

Anyone wanting to take part in the survey has until the end of August. The results will form part of research being carried out at the School of Journalism, Media and Communication at the university.

All respondents also have the option of receiving a report on the  findings of the study.

9 Comments

  1. Observer

    Very few journalists in weekly papers in Scotland….and I dare say the UK…..will be earning near £20k which means they would barely qualify for a house mortgage.
    No-one would recommend that anyone studies for four years to get into journalism. Where are the wage rises going to come from?
    There’s a perpetual wage freeze in many Scottish papers.

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  2. how inspiring

    i was recently offered 23k for a writer/sub editor job in london with newsquest.

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  3. John, London

    I am a senior reporter on a local paper in London. I earn £19,700. There has never been, nor will there be, any wage rise. It’s a joke but that’s the career we signed up to. If only I could turn back time to 2006 and make a different choice!

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  4. Chris, London

    When I first started out in journalism in the mid 90s, I was paid the princely sum of £110 a week for five months, until I got a contract. Then I was paid £15,000 as a general reporter.
    This rose to £18,000 when I was promoted to chief reporter and deputy editor, and finally to £21,000 when I was again promoted to become a Multi Media Desk Editor.
    My employer throughout this time was one of the biggest UK publishers.
    (I now work for a local authority in their press office, and am on £31,000).

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  5. Trainee Hack

    “24pc of the respondents said they earned less than £20k per year though many of those have less than three years’ experience.”

    All very well pointing out the lack of experience, but those wages for newbies are unlikely to creep up, no matter how they progress over the next three years – not on wage freezes or paltry 3pc rises.

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  6. Observer

    While the pay of journalists is often derisory, that of the bosses of the likes of Johnston Press, Newsquest and Trinity Mirror is extremely generous. It was recently reported that the new chief of Johnston is to receive £500,000 worth of their shares as a golden hello.

    Someone with a family who earns the paltry wages highlighted in this survey, is entitled to a number of state benefits. Why should the taxpayer have to subsidise these companies who make good profits but are too mean to pay a reasonable wage?

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  7. Frank, Scotland

    £5,000 is a bit scary – presumably for freelancers or part-timers? Either that, or someone’s being paid well below the minimum wage. My first role offered me a starting salary of £8,600 p/a (eight years ago) and after years with “pay increases” I still don’t actually meet the lower rate of net wage to pay back my student loan!
    Pay hasn’t kept track with inflation and I am sure many are living off their overdrafts.

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  8. moneybags, south east

    So average UK salary is around £24k, and a survey of journalists shows that half respondents are in the £20k to £30k area, while a quarter are earning less than £20k and a quarter earn more than £30k.
    I know hacks are bad with figures, but that shows a pretty decent spread to me – and it’s accepted that those on the lowest rates, by and large, are learning their trade.
    There are undoubtedly some shameful salaries being paid up and down the country but if they couldn’t find people to work for that money they’d soon have to rethink.
    When you read all the whines in HTFP comments about low rates of pay, I was surprised by the findings of the survey so far and look forward to the finished report.
    And there’s a reason local authority press officers can earn £30k and more, current cuts notwithstanding – if you’re going to sell out, they have to try and make it worth your while.

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  9. Mark

    Despite the lack of money in the profession, national titles still pay non-journalists to cover football matches. And pay them the same. Was sitting next to one on Saturday – brought his two kids along for the day out.

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