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Newsquest titles most miserable places to work

22 September 2015

Newsquest journalists are the least happy of those working for major regional newspaper publishers, a Press Gazette survey has found.

The survey of more than 700 journalists, carried out over summer, included 250 who worked for the regional press.Overall, the Press Gazette's survey found that journalists enjoyed their jobs, but for many heavy workloads, low pay and the constant cutting of staffs in the regional press made working lives difficult.

Newsquest was the most poorly rated of the four biggest employers, including Trinity Mirror, Local World and Johnston Press. Staff at the publishers, owned by the American company Gannett, rated working for their employer at an average 4.3 out of 10.

One Newsquest journalist quoted in the report said: "It feels like management thinks stories grow on trees. It's not bullying but somewhere between that and wildly high and unrealistic expectations."

Johnston Press was the next worst performing regional newspaper group, scoring 5.5 out of 10. Participants complained of being overworked, with one saying: "People have taken on more and more responsibilities without the financial rewards."

One Johnston Press reporter said there is no union representation in their office and that to introduce it would be "career suicide". Other participants cited a "clickbait culture" which put pressure on staff and led to a dumbing down of story choices.

Newsquest's rating on the misery index was not a surprise to the NUJ. Members in London and the south east went out on 10-day strike because of poor pay and conditions and the group's summer of sackings appears to be continuing with Reading Chronicle, Slough Observer and Bracknell News latest in line for editorial redundancies. Local offices are also continuing to close with Bridport another recent casualty.

Laura Davison, NUJ national organiser, said:

"The survey exposes the current reality, frustrations and fears of journalists working in the regional press. It shows that people drawn to the job because they want to hold power to account and inform the public become downhearted and disillusioned.
"The survey shows they are being ground down by low pay, the sheer volume of work and a feeling that their aspirations and commitment don't count and the future is simply tawdry and commercialised. Many loved working with their colleagues, and meeting people in the community, but poor conditions and low pay are scant reward.
"Our message is that it is possible to make a difference. Where NUJ members have stood together and fought for improvements there have been good successes, such as winning the London living wage for low paid Newsquest journalists in London.
"Fundamentally we need new approaches to ownership that recognise investment and the importance of listening to and using the genuine resource of the ideas and talents of the workforce. We need a vision for regional journalism built by the people who work in it.  That is the aim of NUJ's Local News Matters campaign which puts quality and investment at the heart of improving our local news journalism."

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Tags: , local newspapers, local news matters, newsquest, johnston press, local world, trinity mirror, press gazette, survey