NCTJ publishes first independent journalism survey in a decade

Journalists at Work reveals statistics and industry views on training, recruitment, conditions and ethics

Over 1,000 journalists contributed to the Journalists at Work 2012 survey, which provides a comprehensive demographic profile of the journalism industry, including personal characteristics and geographical employment patterns.

The survey is a follow-up to the Journalists at Work survey 2002, published by the former National Training Organisations.

Joanne Butcher, NCTJ chief executive, said: “We commissioned this independent research to better understand the changes taking place in journalism, so we would be in a good position to meet the training demands of the industry.

“We have updated and extended the original survey to take into account the most pressing issues facing journalism today, and we believe the report provides a revealing snapshot of the industry and practising journalists. It should also act as an impetus to the industry to ensure journalists are given the training and support necessary to do their jobs.”

Ian Hargreaves, professor of digital economy at Cardiff University and chair of the research project, said: “We should be grateful to the NCTJ for its commitment to leading this research after what has been the most turbulent decade for the UK news industry in a century.

“The need for clear thinking about training, skills and professional standards in journalism has never been greater. Without strong, well resourced, well managed and appropriately regulated news media, our democratic way of life is threatened.”

Some of the main findings included in the report are as follows:

  • There are around 60,000 journalists in the UK, which is a slight reduction from 2002
  • Whilst the overall number of journalists in employment has changed only slightly, they have become more dispersed. Currently about three quarters are employed in the ‘mainstream’ media of newspapers, magazines and broadcasting compared to nine out of 10 in 2002
  • Despite recent difficulties, the newspaper sector employs the highest proportion of journalists, at 24%
  • High proportions of journalists feel that changes in their industry have led to pressures to be multi-skilled, to produce output for a more diverse range of platforms, and to cope with increased work intensity
  • Whilst the majority of journalists (52%) feel that they have had enough training in ethics, a significant minority (14%) feel that they have not done so
  • Increasing proportions of journalists hold a relevant journalism qualification – 63% in 2012 compared to 58% in 2002, described as an “impressive performance” by the author of the report
  • The most common journalism qualification is the NCTJ, which accounts for 73% of the qualifications – a substantial increase compared with 2002 (64%)
  • 83% did work experience before gaining their first paid job
  • Section heads (83%) and writers and reporters for newspapers or magazines (70%) are most likely to hold journalism qualifications
  • 94% of journalists are white (compared to 91% of the population being white). In 2002, 96% of journalists were white (compared to 94% of the population being white)
  • 137 diverse students have received funding for their training from the Journalism Diversity Fund since 2006/07
  • The 2002 Journalists at Work survey was the first to quantify the impact of social class on the likelihood of working as a journalist. There remains concern in the 2012 report that journalism is an occupation where social class impacts on the likelihood of entering the profession

A copy of the full report is available here.