Proper Pay Matters: the meter is ticking on Newsquest chief’s bumper salary.
31 March 2017
Journalists’ pay is at the top of the agenda at a meeting of NUJ reps on the last day of Local News Matters Week (Saturday 1 April).
The theme of the week has been championing quality journalism, but the poor – indeed poverty – wages paid to many members is forcing talent to quit the profession and preventing others from taking up a job.
The reps meet on the day that the National Living Wage rises by 4.1 per cent to £7.50 an hour, or £624 extra annually. But many journalists, particularly at Newsquest, will see no benefit when the wage floor rises, their meagre salaries will continue to stagnate.
A survey by the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism, Journalists in the UK, found that one in five journalist earns less than £19,200, close to the living wage and nowhere enough to save for a deposit on a flat. Women journalists will find themselves worse off than their male colleagues, more than half of women earned less than £2,400 a month compared with 35 per cent of men.
This is pricing many journalists out of the area they a supposed to be reporting.
Journalists at Johnston Press have been told they face a six-month pay freeze – so many will not get a pay review until 2018. Ashley Highfield, the company’s chief executive, received £1.65 million in 2014, with £645,000 awarded as a bonus, half of which was paid in shares.
Often it is only through the intervention of the union that members get a pay rise.
Many Newsquest staff have had one pay rise in the past decade but this squeeze on salaries has not been shared by its newspaper executives. To mark day six of Local News Matters Week, with help from the High Pay Centre, you can calculate how much the pay of Henry Faure Walker, chief executive of Newsquest, is accumulating, compared with his average-paid staff.
Last month the retail price index (which measures all prices, including housing costs) rose to 3.2 per cent.
Chris Morley, NUJ Newsquest group co-ordinator, said:
“The new rise in the National Living Wage has brought the pay for the lowest paid in the country now within striking distance of many of our members in companies such as Newsquest who have been met yet again with a steely closed door on their pay for 2017.
“We wanted to show graphically how big the divide is between the bosses and journalists and our real-time pay counters for Henry Faure Walker and the typical Newsquest reporter illustrate the gulf.
“As real inflation starts to gather momentum, and further belt-tightening is not an option for many journalists, the profession faces a crisis of confidence. Excessive profit margins will have to be ditched to pay journalists what their valuable skills and productivity deserve.”
Newsquest chief executive Henry Faure Walker ($1,448,503 pay package/£1,177,644)*
Based on his last known pay package and at current dollar/sterling exchange rates, since 1 January 2017 Mr Faure Walker earned, equivalent to a £566.17 hourly rate:
Average Newsquest journalist (£22,000/year)
Since 1 January 2017 this worker, at an £10.57 hourly rate, has earned:
*This is the latest total pay package declared to the US Securities & Exchange Commission for Henry Faure Walker. His 2015 package included: salary, bonus, stock awards, supplemental medical coverage, life insurance premiums and company car. The average dollar/sterling exchange rate in 2015 was 1.53 dollars to the pound. The rate is currently 1.23.