Following last year’s more than 50% hike in the price of the Oxford Times, readers will also be expected to pay more for their Oxford Mail, from July. Owners Newsquest will doubtless seek to justify the price rise on the grounds that goodquality journalism has to be paid for. We couldn’t agree more. The problem is, readers are paying more, but Newsquest has not put a penny towards pay rises for the journalists who do a quality job for them day after day. While journalists are now into their fourth year of pay freeze, head of Newsquest, Paul Davidson, is taking home a salary of £612,000, with performance case and share bonuses on top. Now shareholders of US parent company Gannett are being promised a $1.3 billion bonanza, while reporters, subs and photographers whose quality journalism keeps people buying Newsquest papers are being forced out of the industry because they can no longer make ends meet.
“Listen to your UK staff”
In advance of the Gannett shareholders meeting on May 7th, NUJ General Secretary Michelle Stanistreet has written to Chief Executive Gracia Matore, contrasting the 150% increase on the dividends paid last year, with the pay freeze in the UK that has been in force since 2008, with the exception of one small below inflation rise. The letter accompanies a petition to end the pay freeze with comments from staff including one reporter who says half her salary goes on childcare, and another who talks about having to beg money from the newsdesk to pay for petrol to get her to where the story is. Michelle points to the increasing global focus on the behaviour of big corporations like Gannett. “The NUJ would like to be able to say that Gannett is behaving fairly in the UK. At the moment we cannot say that… I hope you will take time to reflect on what your UK staff are telling you and to consider urgent changes to the way that they are treated,” she writes.