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National Survey of Journalists 2006

NEWS RELEASE from NZ Journalists Training Organisation

August 28, 2006

The typical New Zealand journalist is a European women in her 30s who works as a reporter for a newspaper, holds a bachelor's degree, has less than five years experience, is paid about $40,000 a year, has no religious belief – and probably speaks French well enough to conduct an interview with Jacques Chirac.

These are some of the findings from the NZ Journalists Training Organisation's national survey of journalists and editors conducted on-line earlier this year.

Women outnumbered men 54% to 46% in the survey, which drew 1216 responses from an estimated 3500 working journalists and editors, says NZJTO executive director Jim Tucker.

Although women had outnumbered men two-to-one in journalism school for several decades, he said this survey showed they did not stay long in the media industry, with men much more likely to stick around for 30 years or more.

Men also held the better-paid jobs, with 36% of them earning more than $70,000 a year, compared with only 14% of women in that pay bracket. Some 12% of male journalists earned more than $100,000, compared with 3% of women.

He said the survey showed journalists tended to be inexperienced, with 29% in the career for less than five years. Most (40%) worked as reporters or writers, while the biggest group in the sample – about half – earned between $30,000 and $60,000.

Maori journalists were better paid at the upper end of the pay scale, with 11% earning more than $100,000, compared with 7% in the overall sample.

The survey confirmed the dominance of Europeans in the industry. They made up 83% of the sample, with 8.5% identifying as Maori or Maori/Pakeha. The only other groups to register above 1% were Chinese and Australians (1.2% each).

Two thirds of respondents who answered a question about ethnic representation in newsrooms thought minorities were under-represented. Of those who commented further (345 people), most thought ethnic communities needed to be attracted into journalism through school and tertiary education. Many said more Asian, Maori and Pacific Island journalists were needed.

Asked why they chose journalism as a career, 29% said it appealed, 22% were interested in writing and 11% wanted to make a difference. Only .4% were attracted by the pay and 1.4% were influenced by school careers advisers.

Some 724 people answered questions about their experience at journalism school, with most (more than 90%) saying it prepared them well for their careers.

Employers said grammar was the biggest weakness they saw in journalism newcomers, while knowledge of computers and attributes like enthusiasm and curiosity were the biggest strengths.

Asked if they could conduct an interview in a language other than English, 60 said French, 32 listed Maori, 26 German and 14 Spanish. One respondent claimed to speaker nine languages.

The survey followed similar ones in 2003 (290 respondents) and 1994 (1300).


See... National Survey of Journalists 2006 (PDF)

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