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Journalists see 12pc drop in real-terms incomes since 2002

Average salaries for journalists have fallen in real terms over the last 10 years according to a major survey on the state of the workplace released today.

The National Council for the Training of Journalists has published the results of its independent survey Journalists at Work carried out last year.

It reveals that the average salaries for journalists have risen from £22,500 in 2002 to £27,500 in 2012.

However allowing for 36pc inflation during the same period, the results suggests that journalists have suffered a real terms decrease in salary of 12pc.  Other occupations on average have seen an 8pc decrease.

The survey also reveals that less than half of all journalists would advise a young person to go into the profession today.

And it shows that while 39pc of journalists feel they are rewarded fairly for their work, 60pc feel they are not so – a substantial change on 2002 when 50pc believed that they were fairly rewarded.

Writing in the foreword to the report, Cardiff University journalism professor Ian Hargreaves said:  “During the decade between the two surveys, the pay of journalists has fallen behind general inflation and behind the overall level of pay inflation in the UK.

“This weakness in journalists’ pay reflects primarily conditions in newspaper journalism. Broadcast salaries are higher
and have not fallen behind.

“We find no evidence of any dramatic fall in the number of people working as journalists, but we also find that journalists increasingly work in hybrid situations, combining professional journalism work with other activities to which the skills of  journalism are relevant.

“Journalists are also very well educated. Some 82pc have a degree and more than a third have a post-graduate qualification. Our survey tells you which subjects they are most likely to have studied at university.”

Other key findings from the report include:

  • There are around 60,000 journalists in the UK, a slight reduction from 2002
  • Despite its recent difficulties, the newspaper sector still employs the highest proportion of journalists, at 24%
  • A high proportion of journalists feel that changes in the industry have led to pressures to be multi-skilled, to produce output for a more diverse range of platforms, and to cope with increased work intensity
  • An increasing proportion of journalists hold a relevant journalism qualification – 63pc in 2012 compared to 58pc in 2002.
  • The most common journalism qualification is the NCTJ’s National Certificate Examination, which accounts for 73pc of the qualifications.
  • 83pc of journalists did work experience before gaining their first paid job.
  • The proportion of journalists who are confident about the future of journalism as a profession (38pc) is outweighed by those who are not confident (42pc).
  • 22pc of journalists believe that they have been discriminated against at work – an increase on the 17pc in 2002.

More than 1,000 journalists took part in the survey, which aimed to provide a comprehensive demographic profile of the journalism industry.

It was designed as a follow-up to the Journalists at Work survey 2002, published by the former National Training Organisations.

Joanne Butcher, NCTJ chief executive, said: “We commissioned this independent research to better understand the changes taking place in journalism, so we would be in a good position to meet the training demands of the industry.

“We have updated and extended the original survey to take into account the most pressing issues facing journalism today, and we believe the report provides a revealing snapshot of the industry and practising journalists. It should also act as an impetus to the industry to ensure journalists are given the training and support necessary to do their jobs.”

Ian, who chaired the research project, added: “We should be grateful to the NCTJ for its commitment to leading this research after what has been the most turbulent decade for the UK news industry in a century.

“The need for clear thinking about training, skills and professional standards in journalism has never been greater. Without strong, well resourced, well managed and appropriately regulated news media, our democratic way of life is threatened.”

The full report can be read here.

13 comments

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  • March 25, 2013 at 1:57 pm
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    How about a breakdown of those salaries? I suspect the top 10 per cent take half of the pot…

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  • March 25, 2013 at 2:06 pm
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    No surprise there then. They pay us less but expect us to do even more. And, to think, folk are still queuing up to be journalists. Are they mad? If conditions were as they are now when I was starting out a decade ago, I’d have thought long and hard about switching careers…

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  • March 25, 2013 at 2:57 pm
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    Er.. well.. basically….
    Did the NS EVER pay an annual rise under the old annual agreement that was even equivalent to the rate of inflation?
    I don’t remember one. Even after the 78-79 strike we didn’t hit that mark, although it was much higher than was offered..
    Just thinking plus plus ca change…….. only more so!

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  • March 26, 2013 at 8:30 am
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    There must be some pretty high earners out there to skew the figures so badly. £27,500 – I’d still be in newspapers if I could earn that. Never earned more than £23k on a newspaper, even as asst news editor, and I left in 2007.

    Would love to see a breakdown of the figures by sector.

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  • March 26, 2013 at 11:23 am
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    I would be interested to see a breakdown of figures comparing salaries of people on national, regional daily and weekly papers. Before being made redundant I was a journalist for 48 years on Midlands-based evening and weekly papers and never earned £20,000!
    Where do they get the average figures from?
    People in TV and radio have always earned more than journalists on newspapers, yet generally they work on one – or possibly these days – two stories a day. Many are also renowned for picking the local paper reporter’s brains for background etc and pushing to get their interviews first at press conferences.

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  • March 26, 2013 at 11:24 am
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    We seem to miss that the whole point of capitalism is to make the most money for the shareholder. I just wish they’d be honest and say that.

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  • March 26, 2013 at 12:33 pm
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    Really? £22,500? in 2002?
    Who on earth have they asked for that info? I’m not even close to that figure, never mind today’s average and I’ve been a journo for ten plus years.
    Mind you, I suspect that probably says more about me and my stupidity to remain in this sector.

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  • March 26, 2013 at 1:07 pm
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    Averages, like GDP, are the most misleading of all statistics, that’s why they are used so frequently.

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  • March 26, 2013 at 4:11 pm
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    I think we need a dedicated data unit to make sense out of this!

    (see nearby story)

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  • March 28, 2013 at 10:54 am
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    I simply cannot believe all you idiots who say things like “I was a journalist for 48 years and never earned £20,000.” Trainee teachers earn more than that. For decades you have let your managements take the piss, you have put up with rubbish salaries, and finally you are laid off with appalling redundancy packages. Quit, all of you, now.

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  • April 3, 2013 at 1:49 pm
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    Wannabe journos take note.

    To summarise (ish) After taking your prelims you start at £14k. This rises to £17k after you get your NCEs.

    Most have to stay on at the paper they trained on for years to get to the dizzy $21k heights or jump ship to another paper (as a new job will get you a pay hike quicker). Alternatively the better salaries offered for ‘digital journos’ online/print or from the B2B world will pull you over.

    Knowing the low wage I still always thought I would be in newspapers for years and years, but after five years of working so hard and earning so little, the best thing I did was head into magazine/online where, having such a solid newspaper background/training it is a breeze and the salary allows me to actually have a holiday once in a while!

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