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Recruitment firm defends wage level survey

Recruitment firm PFJ is defending a wages survey that claimed local newspaper journalists could earn £40,000 after ten years in the job.

The recruitment company’s survey also showed online journalists apparently making up to £10,000 more per year than their print-based colleagues.

The survey was taken from candidates to its agency who were looking for a new role.

They were questioned during face-to-face interviews over a long period.

Its results placed emphasis on experience boosting wages, with findings revealing that after ten years in the business, a local newspaper journalist could expect to earn £40,000, a consumer journalist £60,000, and an online journalist £60,000.

It also claims their counterparts in business-to-business publications expect to earn £50,000.

Paul Farrar, chairman of PFJ recruitment consultants, said: “What we asked them was what salary they were on and what they were looking for.

“The reason for the survey was to find what the difference was between what peoples expectations were and the reality.

“What we found was that they were not a million miles away from each other.”

He said they had gathered the information by years of experience rather than job titles because the role of, for example, a sub-editor varied between regional press and business-to-business.

He also said that the length of experience quoted assumed people moving up the career ladder, so that someone who remained a reporter for ten years would not achieve the £40,000 mentioned in the survey.

He added that survey candidates would have been mainly “southern-centric” with the majority based in London and the south.

“I could understand why people could question the figures,” he said.

The survey results caused a stir among our readers, who agree the true picture is different to PFJ’s figures.

Claire Watson, of the Eastbourne Herald, said “I realise it does say in the text, the numbers are from a survey of candidates. Still, I find that hard to take in.

“Presumably these are people who are out of work and building their expectations of what they would like the recruiter to find them.”

Louise Glyde, of the Hampshire Chronicle, said: “I doubt I will ever earn more than £20,000 if I worked on the Chronicle for the rest of my life.

“£40,000 is editors money, if indeed that is what they earn.”

Leeds-based journalist Claire Hughes said: “We get paid exactly the same as our print colleagues, on exactly the same scale. Stories like these only increase the potential to stoke up the (possible) animosity felt towards digital – and we could do without it.

“I suggest PFJ look again at their tables and re-label them as ‘wished for’ or ‘pined for’ salaries, rather than ‘expected’.”

And a midlands-based sub-editor wrote: “They may mirror wages in and around London but in my experience of regional newspapers, especially in the Midlands, I defy you to find one regional journalist, not including those who have gone into management, who is on £40,000.

“The survey was certainly right about regional journalists being overworked and underpaid and with the cutbacks and convergence where less and less staff are being expected to do more varied tasks eg web authoring, video editing etc; the closing of final salary schemes and the extra money needed to offset the shortfall this causes, means more and more journalists are effectively taking pay cuts.

“I am a sub-editor with 15 years journalistic experience. I would gladly have my wages bumped up £30,000 let alone £40,000.”