National newspapers pay '19th century wages' for online stories

National newspapers have been condemned for paying as little as £25 for online stories.

The National Association of Press Agencies has said that titles are using 21st century technology but paying 19th century wages when it comes to online.

Press Gazette understands that The Daily Telegraph and Mail Online are the main newspaper titles buying web-only copy from news agencies.

The Telegraph (which attracted 66m ‘unique browsers’ in March) pays a flat fee of £25 for agency stories used online.

Mail Online (which attracted 113m ‘unique browsers in March) pays a flat fee of £40 for online-only stories.

These rates are understood to be the same whatever length the stories are which are used and apply to stories sent in "on spec" (non-exclusively) and then retrospectively billed. It is possible for agencies to negotiate higher fees on a story-by-story basis. Press Gazette understands that stories used for online are rarely subbed down for length and this rate could apply to stories which run to 500 words.

While these rates are considered to be low, agency sources say that the Mail and Telegraph deserve praise at least for being among the few titles to pay regularly for agency stories used online. Two news agencies who spoke to Press Gazette said they do not file speculative stories to The Guardian or Independent because of the low rates on offer there.

UPDATE: 7/5/2013 – It has been pointed out to Press Gazette that The Guardian's rate for web-only stories is £50. Here is a link to the current rates paid by Guardian News and Media to regional news agencies.

The Express and Star titles, The Sun and the Mirror titles are understood to rarely use agency copy online which is not also appearing in print.

NAPA chairman Matthew Bell said: "The copy we file to the papers gets used by their websites but not at the same kind of rates.

"We accepted long ago that the rates would be lower and we continued to provide copy to help them grow their sites.

"Some newspapers, to their credit, have increased payments as their sites have become more successful. Others, however, have not.

"They are using 21st century technology but think it is okay to pay suppliers 19th century wages."

NAPA celebrated its 30th birthday at its annual awards ceremony on Friday night where Hugh Whittow, editor of the Daily Express, was the guest speaker.

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