Survey: One in four journalists in financial hardship - regional press staff are 'really struggling'

One in four UK staff journalists say they suffer financial hardship because of low pay, according to a survey by the National Union of Journalists.

The online survey of 1,251 people covered members of the union working in newspapers, agencies, new media, broadcasting, magazines, books and PR.

Asked what their annual survey salary was over the last year, staff respondents said the following:

  • Less than £20K – 22.4 per cent
  • £20K-£30K – 26.4 per cent
  • £30K-£40K – 24.4 per cent
  • £40K-£50K – 15.6 per cent
  • £60K+ – 6.4 per cent.

The survey found that 15 per cent of respondents had not had a pay rise in the last five years and 83 per cent said their wages have not kept up with the cost of living.

Asked if they suffer financial hardship, 25.6 per cent of staff journalists said ‘yes’ . For freelances the proportion saying ‘yes’ to this rose to 41.2 per cent.

Some 66 per cent of staff respondents said they work unpaid overtime at least “quite often”, with 15.8 per cent saying they did so “always”.

NUJ general secretary Michelle Stanistreet, said: "While most journalists enjoy their job and get a buzz from their work, it is becoming evident that pay is a real problem, with many not being paid enough to cover their bills, never mind have a comfortable life.

“It is totally unacceptable for journalists, at whatever stage of their career, to be paid barely the minimum wage. There is absolutely no justification for this.

“Yes, times in the media market have been tough, but many of the organisations paying a pittance to their staff are in profit. When we look at the salaries and bonuses of executives and managers the story is very different.

“The situation is acute in the capital and south-east where house prices are beyond reach and rent takes up a huge chunk of wage.  News organisations and publishers are creating a situation in which a career in journalism is unsustainable. Talented staff, sick of poverty wages and living in shared flats will drift off to other jobs and the industry will be the poorer for that."

NUJ national organiser Laura Davison said: “Journalists working on local newspapers are really struggling. Newsquest hasn't given the majority of its staff a pay rise for years and is moving photographers off the payroll. Staff in South London had to go on strike just to get a living wage. The survey has provided a real insight into the difficulties many members are facing. This is compounded where there is no union agreement so no ability to collectively bargain on pay."

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