NUJ: Almost a third of journalists are bullied at work

Some 31 per cent of UK journalists have suffered from bullying at work, according to a survey of more than 1,400 members of the NUJ.

The union's annual membership survey also gave an insight into pay for journalists, revealing that 33 per cent of those who work in the national press — and 50 per cent of those in regionals — earn less than £20,000 a year.

On a more positive note, the survey revealed that, of those who had asked their bosses for more flexible hours under the new government guidelines for working families, 74 per cent had their request accepted.

Of those who said they were bullied, 40 per cent worked in newspapers, 21 per cent in broadcasting and 25 per cent each in magazines and PR.

NUJ national newspapers organiser Barry Fitzpatrick told Press Gazette that he deals with two or three bullying complaints from NUJ members every week.

He said: "Nearly all these complaints have some substance to them. We get a lot of problems with women returning from maternity leave, who then encounter problems when they come back and need a bit of support. They often are given no support at all, or short shrift from managers.

"We also get bullying in terms of people being expected to work beyond their normal hours. The culture is often that if you voice concern, that's frowned upon. You're seen as weak."

According to Fitzpatrick, problems often stem from the fact that managers themselves are under pressure due to low staffing levels.

He said: "Often you get quite outrageous behaviour from an editor or manager, and it is caused by the stress levels that they are under."

Fitzpatrick advised anyone who believes they are suffering from bullying at work to not let the matter go on too long before they deal with it. He added that the best route was to raise issues informally first, before going through official channels and involving the NUJ.

In August 2005, former Daily Express executive editor Ted Young won a six-figure payout on the eve of an employment tribunal after claiming that his proprietor, Richard Desmond, had jabbed him in the stomach.

The incident allegedly happened in September 2004, when Desmond was making a tour of the newsroom as the Beslan school siege was unfolding. It was claimed Desmond publicly remonstrated with Young, because an obituary of '60s pop singer Carl Wayne, from The Move, had appeared in the Daily Mail but not the Daily Express.

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