London reporters lose out as pay rises trail inflation

By Lou Thomas and Alyson Fixter

News
reporters on magazines in the capital have seen their pay packets
decrease sharply in real terms in the past five years, with some
average salaries going up by less than 1 per cent, according to a pay
survey from the NUJ.

And trade magazine hacks who believe a move
to the glossy consumer press will net them bigger salaries have been
proved wrong in the new study of journalists – because the two sectors
pay roughly equal wages.

There are about 8,500 magazines in the
UK, the majority of them based in London, where reporters pay has
increased by just 0.9 per cent on average since 2000, to £22,460.

Senior
reporter and section editor roles are paying just 8 per cent more than
five years ago, a level far below inflation, at £25,590 and £28,760
respectively.

Meanwhile, at the top end of the scale, editors’
salaries have shot up by more than 34 per cent, to an average of
£39,800, while the news is also good for newcomers to the industry,
with junior reporters now receiving an average pay packet of £20,780,
up nearly 30 per cent since 2000.

Gordon Jamieson, treasurer of
the NUJ’s London Magazine Branch, who managed the survey, said the
roles of reporter and section editor had been “devalued” in magazines,
with some magazines now consisting of nothing but section editors.

He
said: “Someone new arriving at a magazine may be given a section
although they have only had limited experience. You could say this has
led to a devaluing of the job.”

The rise of the internet and an
increase in the number of trade magazines taking copy written for free
by trade experts had put pressure on reporters, he added.

“Reporters are expected to produce a lot more words than they used to,”

Jamieson said. “The internet is one of many elements that has led to this.

There are now lots of online sources, so much more is expected.”

The survey shows that pay has also shown little improvement for freelances, whether they are subbing or producing copy.

One
anonymous respondent to the survey said: “I worked on the launch of a
magazine in 1998 for £110 a day – it’s still the same rate now.”

Jamieson said: “The thing that makes you despair slightly is reporters’ day rates have remained rigid in the past five years.

“And subs are treated as a commodity.

Publishers are only seeing them in terms of their output.”

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