Nearly a third of Welsh journalists are considering leaving the sector

A higher proportion of Welsh journalists are considering leaving the profession compared to those from across the UK, new analysis from Cardiff University shows.

The study by researchers at the Centre for the Creative Economy, reveals the scale of challenge ahead for the survival and integrity of public interest journalism in Wales.

Commissioned by the Welsh Government, the research team engaged hundreds of people working in the sector - for larger mainstream outlets, independent community websites and freelancers, as well as other stakeholders, such as those working in training or policy.

The results show more than 65% of Welsh journalists have thought of leaving the sector in favour of another profession, with 31% of them in imminent danger of leaving. The main reasons given for wanting to leave the journalism sector were job security (21%), pay (18%), and stress and burnout (18%). The volume of workloads and time pressures were also major factors, researchers say.

In comparison, the most recent overall UK data from 2018 shows 64% of journalists intended to stay in the sector at that time.*

Despite these stark findings, the results reveal 74% of Welsh journalists are either very satisfied or reasonably satisfied in their current positions.

The study shows 28% have full-time, permanent contracts, with 7% on part-time permanent contracts at the time the research took place. Nearly 9% of people had full-time fixed-term contracts and 4% were on part-time fixed-term contracts, while 28% were working as freelancers.

Research lead Dr Marlen Komorowski, based at the School of Journalism, Media and Culture, said: "For the first time, we’re able to see in granular detail the impact declining readerships, job cuts and increased workloads have had on journalism in Wales. A thriving journalism sector is vital for democracy and oversight of power. Some of the structural challenges faced here are arguably deeper than other parts of the UK - as is shown in such a high proportion of journalists considering leaving the profession."

"It’s clear that the vast majority of those we surveyed are passionate about the work they do - with three quarters saying they are happy in their roles. But with so many working under precarious situations, it’s of little surprise that such a high share of journalists in Wales re-assess their futures in the sector."

The study also revealed a lack of diversity across newsrooms, with the majority of journalists being 45-54 year-old men from middle-class households. It finds newsrooms and organisations are not inclusive of disabled people and that most content does not represent the full range of people and communities that make up Wales.

There is also a tension between journalistic aspirations for public interest stories and the type of content that gets engagement.

Those who took part in the study also cited a lack of Welsh-language training and career development opportunities to keep up with new technology - such as the rise in Artificial Intelligence (AI).

Researchers have offered a series of recommendations to safeguard journalism in Wales, which include improved support for freelancers, targeted support for inclusive and diverse journalistic content, better opportunities for people from disadvantaged backgrounds and the support for journalism in areas that are currently poorly covered.

Dr Komorowski added: "Thanks to the evidence-gathering and work with partners, we’re able to demonstrate a blueprint for developing a healthy and independent news culture which will better serve the interests and perspectives of all communities."

Report co-author Silvia Rose is Co-Director and Project Manager for Inclusive Journalism Cymru. She said: "Through speaking directly with journalists and stakeholders in Wales, we were able to properly gauge the landscape and develop an evidence-based blueprint to create a healthier news culture. It was clear that despite the worrying issues outlined in the report, the value of independent journalism is still recognised. It may be a long road to improvement, but at least we know where to start."