The NUJ surveys the effects of the crisis
NEARLY two thirds of NUJ members surveyed said the covid-19 lockdown had "affected household income". Of these, over 17 per cent (144 people) said they'd experienced a drop of between 80-100 per cent of earnings, with over 100 respondents reporting they'd lost 30-50 per cent of income. Nearly a third of respondents said self-employed work had "dried up". Almost as many said it had "decreased", there were numerous comments of work "cancelled." Most expected it would take at least six months for their income to recover.
These are many findings for the NUJ's covid-19 lockdown impact survey, well worth reading at www.bit.ly/NUJsurvey. As we went to press, the survey had gathered 1239 responses, slightly over half of them freelances. Just over half of respondents who gave their gender said they were male and the biggest age group was those in their fifties. Over half described themselves as "feature writers", with "reporter" next most common.
Many freelances fall through the cracks in SEISS. Some 20 per cent of respondents combine self-employment and employment, 21 per cent had come off PAYE at some point in the last tax year, 14.5 per cent are in limited companies. These factors put them in the category of #ForgottenFreelances falling outside government support: see here for more on the NUJ's campaigning on this.
A third said they'd "encountered difficulties in their work" - "access to conferences" was frequently cited, while another response was the single word "police."
Travel journalists said they couldn't attend international events, those covering the hospitality or dance beat said work had "finished". Several were unable to go out and take photos as they were vulnerable, with pre-existing conditions, needing to self-isolate.
While one broadcaster appreciated the BBC's social distancing measures, these meant everything "takes longer." Of the 147 still working in an office, a third said its social distancing measures were inadequate.
Many who are still working face what one newsgatherer described as "increased workload". A reporter remarked that their usual contacts were "too busy to comment". A quarter of still working journalists have to cover for furloughed colleagues. Five per cent of self-employed journalists said the amount of work coming in had increased.
Remote working hasn't been kind to all, with a fifth saying they lacked the equipment to work remotely. A court reporter mentioned "admin issues with remote court access", another cited "patchy communications/Wifi connections". Several said they'd had to fork out for costly equipment so they could do broadcasts from home.
Parents reported that combining work with home schooling was a challenge, leading in some cases to "cancelled shifts."
Several women in households with two parents reported that the "domestic responsibility" for homeschooling seemed to fall on them.