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We need a less exclusive media, says the NUJ

The union has warned that a diverse media can be developed only if the barriers to working class people entering journalism are identified and actively challenged.

We need a less exclusive media, says the NUJ
Seamus Dooley: “We need a media that reflects the society we live in.”

Working-class employees are paid an average of £6,718 a year less than those from better-off backgrounds even when they are doing the same job, research sponsored by the UK-based Social Mobility Foundation has found.

Alan Milburn, chair of the foundation, said: “Depressingly, the research found that when gender and ethnic differences were taken into account those from a working-class background face a 'double disadvantage'. Working-class women are paid £9,450 less than their male colleagues, even when they are both working in higher professional-managerial positions. The study also found that people of Bangladeshi and black Caribbean heritage are paid £10,432 and £8,770 less respectively than their white peers in the same jobs.”

Previous work by the foundation on the professions in the UK found that journalism was one of the “most exclusive” and the latest report on diversity by the National Council for the Training of Journalists (NCTJ) said, “ongoing issues with social class need to be addressed as a priority”.

The NCTJ’s 2022 report Diversity in Journalism found that 80 per cent of journalists had a parent in one of the three highest occupational groups, compared to 42 per cent of all UK workers. Only two per cent had a parent in the lowest two occupational groups compared to 20 per cent of all workers. Of senior editors, 84 per cent had a parent in a high-level occupation.

Seamus Dooley, NUJ assistant general secretary, said: “We need a media that reflects the society we live in. That is why the NUJ agrees that employers should publish their company’s data on the class pay gap and put in policies to encourage people from all backgrounds to be journalists and broadcasters.

“Likewise, employers need to follow suit in publishing gender pay gap figures with those for disabled and black and minority ethnic workers. Journalism has become an almost exclusively graduate and post-graduate profession – we need new routes to seek out talent from all quarters.”

"Since April 2017, organisations in the UK with 250 or more employees have been obliged to publish their gender pay gap figures. The Gender Pay Gap Information Act is now law in Ireland. At our recent conference in Dublin Dr Laura Bambrick of the ICTU stressed the need to address the class imbalance within the Irish media and highlighted the need for greater research on this to topic.”

The NUJ has called for reform of gender pay gap reporting to:

  • Require companies with 50 staff or more to publish gender pay gaps and make all companies publish their plans to reduce the gap as part of the gender pay audit process.
  • Fine companies that fail to address substantial pay gender gaps.
  • Penalise companies that do not comply with the UK Equality Act 2010.
  • Change the requirement for information on salaries to be in deciles rather than the current quartiles.
  • Include information on the part-time pay gap and pay gaps by ethnicity, disability and class.

You can find out more on the NUJ’s Equal pay and the gender pay gap campaign page.

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