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March 17, 2022updated 30 Sep 2022 11:08am

UK journalism jobs data: Vacancy numbers and salaries on the up

By Aisha Majid

New Press Gazette analysis suggests of UK journalism jobs data finds the number of vacancies and size of salaries paid are increasing.

It’s a picture that goes against the narrative of closures, lay-offs and pay-related strikes which Press Gazette has widely covered in recent years (and decades).

Using data from jobs portal, Press Gazette looked at trends in the UK journalism jobs market to see who’s hiring, how much jobs pay and what are the most desired skills.  

UK journalism jobs: Vacancies on the up 

Firstly, we used historical jobs posting data shared with Press Gazette by Indeed UK to look at some trends over time. The analysis reveals that the raw number of advertised journalism jobs increased by 79% over the last three years; from February 2019 to last month.

Over this time the share of journalism jobs as a percentage of all jobs advertised on also increased, rising by 16% from 146 of every 1m job postings on the site to 170, suggesting that the industry is even outperforming the job market as a whole when it comes to the number of openings. 

This backs up the most recent data from the Office of National Statistics which estimates that the number of journalists in the UK rose from 78,000 in 2018 to 96,000 in 2020 -  the highest figure ever recorded in the ONS’ Labour Force Survey, although it should be noted that these ONS figures have a wide margin of error because they are based on a sample.

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The number of jobs, however, only gives us part of the picture. 

For one thing the volume of postings does not speak to the quality of jobs on offer or pay, something those working in the industry have long lamented. 

To analyse the types of jobs on offer, Press Gazette built on the data shared with us from Indeed by looking in detail at live journalism job postings.

We took all the journalism jobs posted on Indeed on 21 February 2022 as a sample snapshot of the industry as it currently stands. While job postings will of course change day to day and week to week, after cleaning our dataset we were left with 657 jobs of various types that represent a variety of roles on offer in the industry.

How much do journalism jobs pay?

When we looked at the salaries for the 113 jobs in our snapshot dataset that advertised a yearly salary (taking the midpoint when a salary range was supplied), we found that the average salary on offer was £35,244 a year. 

This was somewhat higher than the average figure for journalism jobs Indeed provided us for the last three years as a whole (£25,490), suggesting either that pay has improved or that there are currently more senior jobs on offer. 

To put that into context, the median salary for a full-time role in the UK according to the ONS was £31,461 in 2020. The figure for London - where journalism roles tend mostly to be based - is higher.

We also then looked at the seniority of jobs on offer - which would likely affect the average salary. To do this, we searched certain terms in the job description to help determine how many jobs advertised were likely to be at the more senior levels, while how many were entry-level.

Some 44% of jobs advertised were at the editor, assistant editor, senior reporter or other more experienced levels.

We then looked for terms such as ‘intern’’, ‘entry level’ and ‘trainee’ to help identify job advertisements aimed at the most junior recruits. Just 6% of adverts contained such terms, which may suggest a lack of pathways into the field - something Press Gazette has previously reported on.

Most UK journalism jobs are in London

A common complaint levelled at the UK news industry is its London-centricity. Aspiring journalists based outside of the capital often need to relocate to London in order to be where journalism is happening.  

Our analysis of job postings that were live in February 2022 shows that little has changed when it comes to London’s dominance over journalism jobs. Two years after the start of the pandemic, 48% of jobs advertised still list London as the location. Historic data provided to Press Gazette show that’s roughly in line with the trend for the past three years as a whole, as 47% of postings from February 2019 to February 2022 listed London as the location. 

London’s share among the sub-set of jobs that define a geographic location (i.e. they are not purely remote jobs) is even higher. Of the 548 jobs that from the location data provided seem to demand at least a part-time presence in an office, 384 are based in the capital. 

Although our February 2022 data snapshot shows that there are some opportunities on offer across the country, these are few and far between. After London, Bath was the second-most popular listed location with 12 jobs (2% of all 657 postings) located in the south western city. It was followed by Glasgow (ten jobs - 2%) and Manchester (eight jobs - 1%). 

Some 18% of jobs listed their location as remote, while another 9% said the job would offer a hybrid working arrangement with some days in the office and some days working from home. A further 4% of job descriptions said working from home was the temporary preferred location.

Taking the data in the location field of the job advert at face value suggests that less than a third of jobs (30%) offered home-working as at least a temporary or partial option.

Reach among those that have been busy hiring

Future, Reach and News UK were the employers with the most open postings on Indeed on 21 February.

Magazine giant Future had 31 jobs on offer (5% of all journalism postings), Reach had 28 (4%) and News UK had 22 (3%). 

What skills to employers look for when recruiting journalists in the UK?

Finally, we analysed our snapshot dataset of 657 jobs to see some of the more popular skills demanded. 

We looked at the description field for each job and grouped the skills listed based on broader categories. For instance, terms such as "writing skills", "ability to write clearly" and "producing clean or accurate copy" were bundled together under "writing skills". We similarly bundled together things like ​​data analytics, Google analytics, Google trends and audience analytics under "analytics skills".

Coming out on top were skills related to creativity with 322 (49%) of job advertisements mentioning terms related to good ideas and creativity. This was, unsurprisingly, followed by skills related to writing - 319 jobs (49%). 

Other in-demand skills related to the ability to use and understand newsroom analytics - 271 jobs (41%), editing (265 jobs - 40%) and bringing to the role a good list of contacts (112 jobs - 17%). Just 23 (4%) of jobs requested numeracy in the descriptions, while 1% of jobs explicitly asked for "digital skills" although most jobs would have ticked off this requirement in another way - e.g. by asking for experience in Google Analytics or another specific software.

While we focused our search on the more technical or tangible skills required, there are of course a number of personality attributes such as confidence, determination and perseverance that, while needed to do many jobs in the industry successfully, are not always listed in job advertisements. 

Picture: PA Media

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