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NUJ Rate for the Job

How does a freelance journalist, especially one starting out, know what to charge?

To help, the National Union of Journalists issues a Freelance Fees Guide. Its London Freelance Branch also collects rates actually being paid (using this form), and publishes these in the Freelance newsletter - and here. Accessing these pages constitutes acceptance of our disclaimer.

 

These are in no sense recommended rates. They are rates reported by freelances, with those individuals' assessment of adequacy; but standards of adequacy vary and the reporters include both highly experienced and less-experienced journalists.

 
 
 

Database updated 21 April 2014

 

We really want to hear about rates photographers have got for supplying video - whether for newspapers' websites or other uses - and for uses of pictures online.

We've moved rates for online editions of mags and newspapers into the mags and news categories, in preparation for some going online-only.

 

The rates:

  Click below... For...
Words, per 1000 News Local Mag online Book PR Other writing, paid per 1000 words
Words, other News Local Mag online Book PR Other writing, paid per page, per item, etc
Photography News Local Mag online Book PR Other pix whether paid by the piece or the day
Broadcasting News Local Other including podcasting all sorts of radio & TV work
Shifts News Local Mag online Book PR Other work paid by the day; e.g. sub-editing
Other: Cartoon | Crossword | Illustration | Punditry | Retainer | Teaching | Tip-off | Translation
  Recently reported rates all rates reported in the past few months
 

Vital links for freelances:

 

How much?

The amount a writer or photographer gets paid depends on many things: the commercial value of the story or picture to the paper is just one. Another is what the commissioning editor thinks they can get away with.

Most managements, if not editors, would be very pleased to see entire newspapers filled by keen-as-mustard-and totally inexperienced young people who would probably pay to get their by-line in, and don't know what they ought to be paid. If that happens, no-one with experience will be able to afford to stay in journalism. The evidence is that it is happening: many publications are paying freelance journalists less than they did five years ago. This is not good for journalism, and it's not good for a public which depends on experienced journalists to keep it and its decisions informed.

Non-journalists may think that some of these numbers represent a lot of money for what sometimes seems from outside like little work. The highest rates are paid to columnists. Those rates are agreed by hard-headed publishers' accountants on the basis of their expected contribution to profits.

At £100 or even £300 a story, you have to be really dedicated (or have inherited wealth) to invest the many days or weeks it takes to produce a good piece of investigative journalism. And you still wonder why British newspapers contain more and more opinion and less and less news?

And people with regular jobs please note: out of these rates, freelance journalists have to meet our own bills for tax, National Insurance, days off sick, holidays, pensions, phones, cameras, computers, and internet connections - and we need to eat on all the days we're doing general research and proposing projects, too.

  • The Union produces a briefing sheet specifically for photographer members to explain to potential clients why they have to charge what they do and why it's worth engaging a proper photographer with proper (and expensive) equipment. Members should contact the Freelance Office to get a copy.

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Updated: 21 April 2014; texts & collection © NUJ; disclaimer.