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November 1, 2018updated 30 Sep 2022 7:01am

‘Real terms’ wage drop for journalists as average salary in 2018 same as six years ago, new NCTJ survey finds

By Freddy Mayhew

The average salary for a journalist this year has not changed since 2012, according to a major new survey, which said this suggested wages had fallen “in real terms” across the UK news industry.

The average salary for a journalist has remained at £27,500 for six years, according to the Journalists At Work survey, carried out by the National Council for the Training of Journalists.

Fewer than half (44 per cent) of the 885 journalists who responded to the online survey feel they are rewarded fairly for their work, although this is up on 39 per cent in 2012 when the survey was last carried out.

The number of journalists working in the UK has risen by 12 per cent since 2012 to 73,000, according to Labour Force Survey statistics quoted in the NCTJ report.

The figures are estimates based on a sample of around 40,000 households and 100,000 individuals. Although the full sample size is large, the number of journalists in the sample is comparatively small and this may partly explain the wide variance from year to year.

The staffing rise is said to have been boosted by a move away from “mainstream publishing areas” – namely newspapers and magazines – where staff numbers are being cut and circulations are falling.

Less than a third (30 per cent) of working journalists said they are employed by newspapers or magazines, down 15 per cent since 2012 when the survey was last carried out.

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The number of broadcasters has increased along with those declaring themselves self-employed and those now working in PR and communications, the survey shows.

But, the report said: “The extent to which all these individuals can be classed as ‘journalists’ is a matter of some debate.”

Nearly two-thirds of journalists in the UK are employed in London and the South East.

Print remains the main platform for 45 per cent of the journalists surveyed, with 36 per cent mainly developing content for an online/digital platform.

The Journalists At Work survey, which also draws on data from the Office of National Statistics, has been published every ten years since 2002.

Its publication was brought forward because of the drastic changes taking place in the news industry. NCTJ chief executive Joanne Butcher said: “…with so much transforming the work of modern journalists we simply couldn’t afford to wait that long to compare the results.”

The online questionnaire was based largely on that used in 2002 and 2012 research, updated where necessary and with some new questions added.

In the survey’s other findings:

  • A journalist works on average 40.7 hours per week, compared with 31.8 hours across all jobs in the UK economy. That’s down nearly an hour since 2002, with the change put down to an increase in part-time working.
  • 45 per cent of journalists surveyed are confident about the future of journalism as a profession vs 34 per cent who are not confident – a change
    since 2012 when those feeling negative outweighed those who felt positive
  • 62 per cent would be willing to advise a young person to become a journalist, an increase from 51 per cent in 2012
  • 18 per cent of journalists believe that they have been discriminated against at work – a decrease on 22 per cent in 2002.
  • Journalists are older than the UK workforce as a whole – five per cent are under 25 compared with 12 per cent for the whole UK workforce
  • Journalists are less ethnically diverse than the workforce as a whole – 90 per cent are white compared with 88 per cent overall.
  • The majority of journalists (74 per cent) feel that they have sufficient training in ethical issues, with only five per cent not in agreement.

Read the full Journalists At Work survey.

Picture: Pixabay

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