covid-19: see advice in the Freelance

Regional newspapers are morning daily papers with circulations covering large areas of the country, such as the Birmingham Post or the Western Daily Press. Provincial newspapers are local weekly or evening publications. See Regional newspaper categories.

While some regional papers and a few provincials pay reasonably by the standards of their local economy, freelance rates in many papers (especially in provincials) have not risen in proportion either to the cost of living or to staff salaries, themselves often miserable. It is difficult for the NUJ to recommend that members work for these. For a freelance, the only positive thing about working in this area is that it may provide you with a chance to get your by-line noticed - useful if to newcomers, but not others. Individual negotiation is essential, but freelances who do decide to do work for one of these papers should remember to try the nationals first with good stories - they of course represent a much bigger market and a bigger fee too.


Some papers are trying to reinstate a version of the old "lineage" system - that is, payment for each line of text published. Many freelances circumvent this penny-pinching system by getting the paper to order stories, and then invoicing for the agreed fee. The NUJ is opposed to lineage payments, and to other versions of "payment on publication".

Rights and syndication

Some newspaper publishers attempt to gain all rights from freelance contributors. See Rights and why they are important for a discussion of why you should resist this.


Most regional newspapers have set rates for sub-editing shifts and so these can be difficult to negotiate individually. Some may insist on deducting tax and National Insurance from shift payments at source but this can be challenged - see Shift payments - tax and time off). The best way for freelances to get improved shift payment is by working with the chapels to get their rates included in the house agreement.

House agreements

The NUJ has house agreements with some newspaper publishers. However, only staff and, in some cases, people doing regular shifts are covered by the rights to union recognition and collective negotiation of terms.

The union is working to include sections in house agreements that set out minimum terms and best practice for engaging freelances, but this will take some years, especially with those management that resist negotiating anything they're not forced to negotiate. In any case, freelances will need to negotiate what each article they do is actually worth, even where there are agreements that set out the minimum.

Freelance collective agreements remain more likely to be achieved where freelances form networks (some think of them as "freelance chapels"). These have negotiated in liaison with and supported by the Freelance Office, the Regional Organiser, the relevant staff chapel, Freelance Industrial Council and any appropriate NUJ branch (freelance or general).

See contacts for some email networks - we are always happy to help set up another if there are several people demanding it.

Extra money ‘for free’

All freelances who write should register with the Authors' Licensing and Collecting Society to receive payments from secondary uses such as photocopying, and provide the Society with updated lists of their articles. See Rights and why they are important.

More advice and links...
* Interest and penalty calculator and the law on late payments
* Uploaded 14/08/2222: if you have a printout, check the current version at
* Rates for the Job good, bad and ugly
* Join the NUJ to get individual advice & representation

Text © Mike Holderness & previous contributors; Moral rights asserted. The collection (database right) © National Union of Journalists. Comments to please. You may find the glossary helpful.

The National Union of Journalists must not, can not and would not wish to dictate rates or terms of engagement to members or to editors. The information presented here is for guidance and as an aid to equitable negotiation only.

Suggestions apply to contracts governed by UK law only. In any event, nothing here should be construed as legal advice.