NCTJ launches research exploring self-employment experiences in freelance journalism

The National Council for the Training of Journalists (NCTJ) is conducting research on working lives of freelance journalists, aiming to provide independent, comprehensive information to allow us to understand the issues and difficulties freelance journalists overcome as well as the skills and training they look for in the pursuit of their stories.        

A significant trend across the UK economy has seen the rise in self-employment and journalism has not been isolated from this phenomenon. Across all jobs, the proportion of those working who are self-employed has increased from 12 per cent to 15 per cent and for journalists this has grown from 25 per cent to 35 per cent. Government statistics suggest that 25,000 of the 72,000 working journalists in the UK are self-employed. There are no indications that this trend will diminish.

There is much we do not know about the self-employment experience for journalists, for example:

  • What part has the rise of hyper-localism played in the increase of self-employed journalists?
  • How freelance journalists specifically gain their journalism skills, how do they maintain and develop them and what are the skill needs of freelance journalists and how can these be met?
  • What are the working patterns of freelance journalists? Do they focus on repeat business with a small group of clients? How true are anecdotal reports of ‘re-work’? (Journalists who are laid off and re-hired on a self-employed basis)

The NCTJ has designed a survey which aims to shed some light on these issues and can be accessed here. The survey will take about 20 minutes to complete and all responses will be anonymous.

The NCTJ are interested in the views of freelance journalists, whatever sector they work in. Any self-employed journalist who makes a living from the use of their journalistic skills is eligible to take part.