IFJ-ILO: The Changing Nature of Work
The nature of work in the media is changing. Employment in media has become more precarious, less secure and more intense. In the last five years, there has been a trend away from collective bargaining, and toward individual negotiations. In Asia and Latin America, journalists are being employed on individual contracts in increasing numbers.
Around the world, the trend is toward the privatization of state media, and experienced senior journalists are being replaced by younger graduates who more often work in a non-permanent – or ‘atypical’ – employment relationship.
While these new fresh faces are taking up jobs in media, journalists’ average rate of pay appears to be declining in real terms, or at best, standing still, over the past five years.
In some regions, media is becoming more concentrated, while in others (generally in the developing world), new media and new media owners are overseeing an expansion of employment for (mostly young) journalists.
These changes appear to be having a negative impact on the quality of editorial content and may be jeopardizing the media’s role as a watchdog for society.
There are indications that insecurity in employment may be contributing to a decline in critical and investigative reporting; changes in media concentration and pressure from external forces may be leading to a creeping culture of self-censorship in the news media; those working in the news media are becoming increasingly aware of the costs of running a newspaper or broadcaster – and the importance of advertising – and this may be impacting on editorial decisions; and in some cases, poor wages are leading to a decline in ethical reporting due to corruption, or the ‘envelope’ tradition.
Atypical workers make up on average 30% of the membership of IFJ affiliates, yet the affiliates generally do not know a lot about these members. They have few statistics on where these journalists work.
Atypical workers are primarily paid on rates set by employers, usually by the story or item, and generally without the same working conditions of permanent employees. Freelance journalists are most commonly engaged by a verbal agreement, without a contract, and contribute material to between one and four employers.
IFJ affiliates recognize disadvantages in atypical employment relationships, especially in the poor pay and working conditions. However, some can see professional benefits for this type of working style. IFJ affiliates are attempting to engage with and campaign for their members in atypical work, but find this difficult due to the demands of their regular members and the extra workload in providing services to a disparate group.