ITV News presenter Nicholas Owen has criticised regional newspaper publishers for consistently paying low wages to what are often highly experienced journalists, writes Wale Azeez.
Speaking at the biennial Newstec conference, organised by the Newspaper Society in Brighton on Tuesday, Owen took the opportunity to raise the perennial question of low pay in the regional press.
“How are you going to attract a wider range of readers – and by God, you are going to need to do so much more in the coming years – if you don’t pay enough to get people from the widest range of society?” he asked. “Soon it will only be the children of the wealthy, subsidised by their parents that will work in local and regional newspaper journalism.”
As one who spent the first 17 of his 39 years in journalism on a local paper, the subject of low pay remains close to Owen’s heart. “I know its not a new point but it’s a serious one. It’s difficult for even a fully experienced journalist on a local paper to get £20,000 a year. And on a regional paper he’d be lucky to get £25,000.”
Owen’s said his speech was met with “mostly polite silence and some mild heckling from the back”.