“Quality information depends on decent working conditions for all media workers and young journalists should be no exception,” says the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ). On 7 October, the Federation will mark the World Day for Decent Work by launching a global survey to assess the needs of young media workers.
In recent decades, precarious working conditions, including poor pay, lack of contracts, heavy workloads, and stress and job insecurity have blighted the news sector. Young workers have particularly suffered.
Sharply increasing inflation has brought issues to a head, exacerbated by media anti-union policies and legislation limiting freelancers’ rights to organise. The loss of physical newsrooms after the coronavirus pandemic also contributed to isolating those who just joined the profession.
In Uganda, a survey by the African Centre for Media Excellence shows that about three-quarters of journalists earn no more than 1 million Ugandan shillings (€250) a month.
In Indonesia, the Alliance of Independent Journalists (AJI), reports similar results, with a high number of journalists reportedly being paid under Jakarta’s 2023 provincial minimum wage of 4.9 million rupiah (€300) a month.
In Switzerland, a 2023 survey has highlighted the level of pessimism about the future of the profession among young journalists with the majority considering it unlikely that they will work as journalists for their entire professional life.
Across the world, journalists and media workers are taking industrial action to defend local news (UK), demand pay rises (Argentina, Spain, Egypt) and fight for decent working conditions (Turkey, United States). In many instances, young journalists are leading the campaigns.
Unions have started providing support to youth in this deteriorating working environment. In Argentina, the Press Union of Buenos Aires (SiPreBA) launched a campaign in August 2023 on press workers’ rights aimed at young journalists called “Caja de herramientas”. It consists of a series of videos pointing at young journalists’ daily challenges.
In Asia- Pacific, the IFJ and its affiliates have run a series of regional bootcamps under the central theme of ‘Future Power’, designed to build the capacities of young union leaders and activists among.
The IFJ wants to hear the views of more young journalists and has invited all media workers under 35 to participate in its survey (here).
It is available in English, French, and Spanish and asks journalists about daily work challenges and expectations towards unions.
IFJ President Dominique Pradalié said: “Becoming a journalist today can be like jumping off a cliff blindfold. It is vital that unions provide a safety net to secure the future of journalism. Young reporters and photographers must be empowered to tell the truth, abide by strong ethical standards, and earn a decent living. The quality of information depends on it. Democracy requires trustworthy information. Our survey is a unique opportunity for young journalists to have their say globally. We encourage affiliates to share it widely to maximise the results”.