Public thinks local journalists get £25k

Dear: poverty wages are a disgrace


A nationwide poll conducted by the NUJ found that 50 per cent of people believe senior journalists on a local paper earn more than £25,000.

The reality, according to the union, is that fully NCE-qualified seniors start on a wage of £15,000 to £16,000.

The survey, conducted by research company TNS, questioned 1,005 adults in areas where Newsquest publishes papers. It was commissioned as part of the NUJ’s Fair Pay Now campaign targeting Newsquest, which was launched last month.

The union has made a pay claim at the group, which is the UK’s second largest regional newspaper publisher, and is seeking a minimum salary of £20,000 for senior journalists by July 2005.

Newsquest has declined to make any comment at head office level about the campaign. But journalists at a local level have complained that they are being “censored”.

At Newsquest Bradford, journalists say they were forbidden from displaying on their union noticeboard a Guardian story detailing increased profits at Newsquest’s US parent company Gannett.

And at the Oxford Mail, union members were asked to take down from their union noticeboard a Press Gazette front-page story about the launch of the NUJ’s recent low pay campaign.

NUJ general secretary Jeremy Dear said: “This kind of censorship is ridiculous. Newsquest must be the only company I know which does not want people to know of its success. It is clearly embarrassed that it makes so much money but invests so little of it in its staff.

“For a company which makes millions in profit to be paying poverty wages is a disgrace.” He said that so far, more than 5,000 people had signed a petition calling for Newsquest to increase pay for journalists.

According to the NUJ, managers at some Newsquest centres have entered into pay talks.

Dear said: “There are talks going on in a number of places and some are very encouraging. The problem in each case is local managers say they are not being given the resources by Newsquest to agree a fair pay rate.”

The union says it has persuaded MPs to table an early day motion later this month backing its campaign.

By Dominic Ponsford

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