About Me

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I'm a journalist, ex-national papers, now working in what we call "new" media.
A survey here shows that journalists work many more hours than they are contracted for. Roy Greenslade discusses it here

Interesting, but hardly surprising. The fact is that lots of people in lots of professions work longer than they legally need to- ask teachers, doctors, professionals in many walks of life.

What this is really about is the fact that journalists on local and regional papers have seen their wages fall in real terms and many exist on a pittance. The problem here is simply that there are too many people who want to go into journalism and the barriers to entry are quite low (compared to becoming a doctor, lawyer etc where a professional qualification is essential). Papers don't need to offer high salaries to attract staff.

It seems to me that journalism is becoming rather like acting (another profession that large numbers of young people want to get into and which has low barriers to entry). There are a small number of highly-paid people at the top of the tree (national newspaper editors, top columnists, star broadcasters) and an increasingly long tail of those (including many freelances) who are barely eking a living, in the forlorn hope that at some point they may get a big break. Somewhat reminiscent of the world portrayed by Ricky Gervais in Extras.

None of this is going to change until large numbers of people decide that the reality of low earnings in journalism is such that it is better to get a secure, better paid but arguably less glamorous job, and there a fewer journalists competing for the same scarce jobs.

Anyway, none of this is new, as any reader of George Gissing's 19th century classic New Grub Street will be aware.