The Grey Cardigan 24.08.06

DEEP JOY. An Office of National Statistics report has confirmed that journalists now earn less than train drivers.

Coming a humbling 73rd in a list of annual salaries, journos are now reckoned to be on an average of £32,614 a year, which is also less than dancers, social services managers, most teachers, and police officers of the rank of sergeant and above.

This is, of course, an average, and presumably includes higher-paid national newspaper staff, because I can already hear the jeering from the provinces where £30,000 a year is a figure to be gazed at in envious wonder by many senior journalists.

And it gets worse. Here at the Evening Beast, where we have married men with two kids and a mortgage struggling along well below that threshold, gurning managers recently congratulated themselves on increasing the starting rate of graduate trainees to a massive £13,500. That doesn't even register on the ONS list, where assistant market traders occupy the 300th and bottom slot with £15,472 a year.

Meanwhile, Ray Snoddy takes out a couple of pages of The Independent to laud Tim Bowdler, chief exec of Johnston Press, as the most important man in the entire industry. Johnston Press stands accused of paying its trainees a thrifty £12,500, a parsimonious policy Bowdler blithely explains away by saying that the company has no difficulty recruiting the staff it needs.

Well they might be the staff Johnston Press needs, but are they the staff that journalism needs? In the same week we learn that the number of teenagers taking Media Studies at A-level has increased by 85 per cent in the past five years. There are now 30,000 kids doing the much-derided module — the same as the current number of journalists employed across the entire industry.

So who are all these budding journalists? Hungry young newshounds, prepared for the rough and tumble of flower shows and funerals? No fucking chance. By the time student loans are taken into account, only middle-class kids enjoying the parachute of parental subsidy can now afford to come into our industry. And Jocelyn and Jemima aren't going to linger among grubby newsprint. They've got their eyes firmly set on broadcasting or perhaps, at a push, glossy magazines.

I look at them now across the newsroom, emitting the sneering arrogance of youth as they unthinkingly copy down the lies fed to them over the phone by a succession of publicly funded spokesweasels.

These people will never be threatened outside a magistrates' court or chased away from a death knock by an angry family. They may as well be working in a fucking call centre (£16,075 and 292nd since you ask).

If Tim Bowdler really wants to be the most powerful man in regional newspapers, he might want to do something about the shameful salary structure (token mention of his bonus and pensions here) that conspires to exclude from entry to the craft the next Keith Waterhouse or Harry Evans. Actually, there's a pleasing circuitry to that thought: wasn't Harry's dad a train driver?

STILL WITH matters fiscal, The Guardian dons hair shirt to bemoan the £19bn in bonuses paid to City types and fat-cat chief execs (see above).

Strange then that on the same day, G2's invaluable guide as to what you can take onto a plane following the terrorist alert includes non-vegetarian leather handbags from Chloe (£659) and Miu Miu (£525).

Stranger still, given that the end of the world is supposed to be nigh, is the previous day's road test of a 175mph Aston Martin V8 Vantage, price £82,800. (Emissions not known, but it looks as if hot air plays a part.) Don't they know that the money to pay for these things has to come from somewhere?

THE Daily Mail is in trouble over its blatant lift of The Sun's Prince Harry groping pictures.

Why didn't they just do what the posh papers usually do — write a long piece condemning the tactics of the gutter press, thereby taking full advantage of the opportunity to repeat salacious details and print the offending pictures, thus ensuring that their high-minded readers don't miss out?

At least that's what the Daily Telegraph did. And used it on page three.

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