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Observatorio (OBS*)

versão On-line ISSN 1646-5954

OBS* vol.8 no.2 Lisboa jun. 2014

 

The predicament of Young Journalists: The study of Portugal

 

Liliana Pacheco*, José Rebelo**

* PhD Student/Teacher at the University Institute of Lisbon (ISCTE-IUL), Avenida das Forças Armadas, 1649-026 Lisboa, Portugal. (liliana.teresa.pacheco@iscte.pt)

** Professor at the University Institute of Lisbon (ISCTE-IUL), Avenida das Forças Armadas, 1649-026 Lisboa, Portugal. (jose.rebelo@iscte.pt)

 

ABSTRACT

This article attempts to draw a portrait of young Portuguese journalists. Who are these young professionals dedicated to a profession which is in turmoil? The reasons for the instability of the sector are many and varied. We could mention the trend towards media concentration into business groups: the resulting mergers lead to diminish the importance of journalists, which in turn leads to contraction of the job market. An issue which is proving intractable is the job insecurity affecting mainly younger journalists - those who actually get the jobs, since there are large numbers of journalism graduates who run up against almost insurmountable barriers to make an entry into the profession.

Power relations in the editing rooms are also changing. Relations with supervisors become impersonal, mediated by editors or managers who may not have an access to the board of directors.

Within the profession, there are certain facets which differentiate one generation of journalists from another. The new information technologies also play an important role here: in addition to exponentially strengthening the dominance of time management, they completely transform communication models based on the traditional media. The role of the journalist becomes more elusive. In other words, the traditional mediating role of the journalist is disappearing.

Keywords: Young Journalists; Insecurity; New Media; Journalism Trends

 

The Plight of Young Journalists

Young journalists today are looking for a stronger definition of their identity, challenged by forces which are breaking up this occupational group even further (Fidalgo, 2002:13). Identifying the specific features of their role, the boundaries of their mission, and the qualifications and particular skills they need are constant concerns.

As we shall see from the data supplied by the CCPJ (Committee for Professional Licensing of Portuguese Journalists), a course in media, journalism or communication studies is the gateway to the journalism profession today, thanks in large part to internships, which enable young graduates to demonstrate their abilities and be introduced to the work of the editing room. These courses, for which there are many applicants every year, seemed to offer salvation for the human and social sciences departments in the universities.

Journalistic training is often criticised by editors and media bosses. However, as Arnaud Gonzague argues in an article in which he discusses schools of journalism, it is increasingly necessary nowadays to have a degree in order to obtain work, despite the fact that journalism schools, in his opinion, produce clones.1 While the academy continues to insist on courses which focus on reflexivity and professional ethics, media organisations and firms value other skills more highly in journalism applicants, such as the ability to produce a large amount of work very quickly. In a study in which he interviewed 60 media bosses on what characteristics were most desirable in an aspiring journalist, Jorge Pedro Sousa reached the following conclusions: "Almost all newspaper bosses (as the low standard deviations show) prefer journalists whose basic higher education is directly related to the field in which they intend to specialize (economics, sport, political science, etc.), provided that that degree is subsequently combined with a postgraduate qualification in journalism which is either generic (in the various different media) or specialized (television journalism, radio journalism, etc.). Even so, it is curious that these interviewees valued higher degrees in the journalist's future specialist area more highly than generic courses in journalism or communication studies. In any event, a degree qualification in any field comes out better than occupational training in journalism following secondary education. These results open up new opportunities for higher education institutions which wish to set up graduate - and particularly postgraduate - programmes in journalism.2

Journalists' working conditions have deteriorated in recent years (Correia, 2006). As in other professions, it is the younger journalists who are most affected. José Rebelo wrote that "yesterday, perhaps precipitately, everyone thought he could become a journalist, even if that involved fixed-term work contracts, self-employment and even unpaid internships. Today everyone is beginning to think, perhaps too pessimistically, that it is becoming impossible to practise the journalistic profession."3

A union document from 20034 described the situation arising from employers' actions as follows: "widespread non-observance of rights enshrined in law and in collective work contracts; attempts to diminish workers' ability to complain and exercise their fundamental rights; widespread replacement of professional journalists by journalism students, which represents a systematic violation of labour law; use of casual labour (self-employment and fixed-term contracts); vulnerability to non-payment of wages and evasion of social security and tax obligations; proliferation of individual work contracts, containing clauses which bypass collective agreements and which are generally less favourable; high number of employing organizations not belonging to any employers' association; performance assessments of journalists and other workers without prior negotiation of corresponding rules with workers' representative organizations; continuing reductions in editing room staff numbers, in particular through so-called voluntary redundancies, seriously impoverishing historical memory in the media; stagnation in or even non-existence of professional careers; reduction in real salaries; discretionary awarding of salary increases; a climate objectively conducive to self-censorship and subordination to standards and procedures which are contrary to freedom of the press and journalistic independence." When the economy is tending towards recession rather than growth, job insecurity is immediately reflected in news of journalists being sacked. Those most affected are the weakest links in the productive chain, such as young people or those who are looking for a permanent job (Fidalgo, 2002:11).

It is estimated that between 2006 and 2010 media companies lost around 500 employees.5 Media industry total salary bills grew by 7% between 2006 and 2010. However, if we take board and management remuneration separately, costs rose by 13%. Between 2006 and 2010, administration costs in the media sector rose from 2.5% to 3% of total remuneration. In the same period overall personnel costs per worker increased by 9.2%, but salary costs per worker rose by only 5.2%.6

We might say that this union information was up to date, but several indicators suggest that the recent situation has worsened considerably. Following the financial crisis in 2008 and at the height of the public debt crisis in the Eurozone, with governments adopting austerity measures in various sectors, everything leads us to believe that the situation in the media has become even worse. In 2010, Portugal was the third-highest country in the EU for job insecurity. Around 23.2% of salaried workers had fixed-term or similar temporary contracts of employment. Because of the casual nature of employment, workers often have little or no access to social security benefits. Some of the problems most often associated with job insecurity are the risk of unemployment, salary levels which tend to be low, excessively long hours, often in shifts, and non-payment of overtime. These problems create a fear of the future, often reflected in a pessimistic fatalism and sometimes a feeling that one is socially useless.

Fernando Correia mentions the mismatch between the extent and seriousness of the problems affecting most journalists and the weakness of their commitment to membership of organizations such as unions, editorial boards, workers' committees, etc... (Correia, 2006: 127) Is it the crisis of professional identity, dispersal or individualism which accounts for this? This writer suggests that unity and joint action among professional journalists are a necessary condition for overcoming the challenges, defending and dignifying the profession and fighting for information as a social good. In other words, the struggle is not just for material well-being, but for symbolic value as well. Younger journalists, who are the ones most vulnerable to questionable work contract situations, are also less unionised than earlier generations, a phenomenon which may be explained by the fact that they may feel the union's activities do not relate to them or even by the prevalence of untrammelled competition in the profession, which leads to a more individualistic culture.

"The reference adopted is that of the "standard job" model (Barbier and Nadel, 2000), described in the literature as a full-time job, governed by a legal contract which basically ensures employment for life, the right to social security benefits in unemployment, sickness and old age, and a professional career based on preference according to seniority. This was the "classic job" model which prevailed mainly in the post-war period of growth in the developed countries in Europe. The idea of the insecure job arose in opposition to this standard model and applies to jobs governed by a fixed-term work contract, with no prospects of continuity in building a future professional career and with low levels of remuneration. Given the many forms which such insecure jobs may take, it is often referred to in the literature as "atypical forms of employment" or "non-standard" employment." (Oliveira, Carvalho and Veloso, 2011: 29).

In countries where labour market regulation is of the Fordist type (Oliveira and Carvalho, 2008) and where labour markets are correspondingly more rigid (OCDE, 2004; 2011), the term 'flexibility' takes on a different meaning. It is generally described as "precariousness" (or insecurity) and characterizes work situations involving fixed-term contracts, the inappropriate use of self-employment, and forms of illegal work (i.e. undeclared for tax purposes), associated with a feeling of job insecurity, uncertain careers and unstructured professional trajectories. This feeling of job insecurity is worse in countries where the welfare state model is less advanced and state social safety nets are weaker (Oliveira, Carvalho and Veloso, 2011: 30).

In the book "Jovens em Transições Precárias" [Young People in Insecure Transitions] we can see that insecurity today is not limited to the issue of employment, but extends to the various different aspects and sectors of social life, affecting the youngest people in Portugal more seriously (but not exclusively). We find what is almost a way of life marked by the fear of suddenly being without a source of income, or of not having enough income. The unpredictability of an insecure day-to-day existence means that various rituals in the transition to adulthood are successively delayed: financial independence, leaving the parental home, setting up a new family or having children. It becomes impossible to make medium-term plans for a family, living on the edge. The family takes on a prominent role in this context: solidarity networks derive mainly from relationships with family members. The daily burden of living on the verge of not having a future and the strain which this fear creates in the daily life of a generation of young journalists is a topic which we will attempt to understand better when we obtain the results of "The New Generations of Journalists in Portugal" project.

Ignacio Ramonet (2011) writes that "for the majority of citizens, journalism amounts to just a few journalists: those who are seen everywhere. Two dozen celebrities, who live somewhere apart from the rest of us, who spend their time "embedded" with politicians and who reconcile themselves with them the world over. This creates a kind of political nobility, made up of political leaders and famous journalists who spend time with (and sometimes marry) each other, a new aristocracy." But the writer makes an important caveat: this is not the real world of journalism. The main characteristic of this profession today is insecurity. Most young journalists are very badly paid. They work on a piece-work basis, often in pre-industrial conditions. Over 80% of journalists have low salaries. The whole profession lives with the constant threat of unemployment. So "the two dozen celebrity journalists are not in the least representative, and conceal the social poverty of journalism - in France and many other countries. The Internet has not changed this - in fact it may have made it worse. On the real-time online information sites set up by the old media, working conditions are even worse. New types of exploited journalists have emerged. Their possible consolation is that the future may belong to them."

The problem of the journalism job market is not only that there is an army of reserves in the wings, there are other factors which distort the system, such as the continuous rotation of internships in media companies. There is a feeling that the remaining journalists can be asked to do unpaid overtime and to work in media types for which they are not suitably prepared. In the press and radio not all positions are filled, or are filled by unaccredited persons, mainly on account of financial constraints. Within the media companies there is a bottom-line approach to the issue of training (whether ongoing, specialized, recycling or improving skills). There is no immediate return, and training takes time away from routine tasks (Correia, 2006).

There are cases where training is given, but its aims are to integrate with the "corporate culture", and this often involves standardizing behaviour, values and objectives common to all sectors - from marketing to the editing room.

In the last three years, at least 516 journalists had to draw unemployment benefit, as a result of dismissals or redundancies, which continued to worsen in 2011, as unemployment benefit claims rose by 16.5% compared to the previous year, as has already been mentioned.

A study carried out by the Union of Journalists on data from the CPAFJ (the Portuguese Journalists' Social Security Fund - Caixa de Previdência e Abono de Família dos Jornalistas) concludes that between 2009 and 2011 there were 388 applications for unemployment benefit, 89 for family income support, 29 for full benefits and 9 for partial benefits, for a total of 516 applications7.

In the last five years (2007-2011), the total number of applications to the CPAFJ8 was 694, of which 566 relate to new unemployment benefit claims. It is clear that the problems of the low family incomes persist for the 89 journalists who had to apply to the family income support fund in the last three years, once the regular unemployment benefit had run out.

 

 

An analysis of the available data shows a significant relationship between the total number of benefit claims and levels of concentration of ownership in the media, as can be seen in a demonstration of claims in the last three years (Table II). In fact it can be concluded that in the three-year period under consideration (2009-2011), ten of the companies or business groups which generated five or more claims in one or more years accounted for 342 new unemployment benefit claims, in other words, over 88%.

 

 

In the last year the group which generated the highest number of unemployment benefit claims was Cofina (which owns the Correio da Manhã, Record, Jornal de Negócios, two of the free dailies - Metro and Destak, and several magazines), with a total of 30, equivalent to 25.4% of the 118 new claims made in all the companies/groups mentioned above. Next come Controlinveste (owner of the Jornal de Notícias, Diário de Notícias and Jogo, amongst other publications), with 22 claims (18.6%), and Impresa (the owner of SIC, Expresso, Visão and several other publications), with almost 17% of total claims (20 cases).

In the three-year period from 2009-2011, the Controlinveste group generated 101 benefit claims, at the top, with 29.5%, of the list of companies which generated a total of 342 claims. Cofina came second with 57 claims (16.7% of the total for the period), followed by Impala (which owns Focus and a vast number of magazines), with 48 claims (14% of the total), and Impresa, with 47 cases (13.7%). In the final months of 2011 RTP, the Portuguese National TV Broadcaster (Rádio e Televisão de Portugal), embarked on a wide-ranging programme of staff redundancies, using a kind of early retirement scheme and voluntary redundancy agreements, but its results were not as anticipated by the corporation. 15 claims were lodged in 2011, making 22 new unemployment benefit claims since 2009; 4 additional claims were made in the first quarter of 2012.

In addition, to quote from the same Union of Journalists study, "despite the clear concentration of dismissals in the main groups and companies, the redundancies and unemployment which follow have more severe effects on micro-firms and small businesses which own local and regional media (press and radio), in which salaries are lower, which in turn is reflected in the amounts of unemployment benefit received."

The union further draws attention to the fact that "on account of their isolation, journalists and other workers in micro-firms and small businesses are less able to negotiate advantageous or even acceptable terms of dismissal, and are often confronted with the "guarantee" that they will get the documentation needed for submission to job centres as sufficient "compensation" for their dismissal and the months or years of uncertainty and lack of work."

Media companies have viewed the cutting of staff in the editing rooms as the solution to their financial crisis, but it seems that this is not the solution, and in addition it ends up jeopardizing one of the pillars of democracy.

The persistence of the unemployment problem over the last decade has profound consequences: not only for the journalists, who have been directly affected, but also, for the whole sector and for democracy itself. While in the past it was older, longer-serving staff who were most affected by redundancies, now they have also reached younger people9 - because the older ones have gradually left and the younger ones are still struggling with the non-renewal of fixed-term contracts and the fact they are not on the companies' permanent staff. Moreover, no-one knows exactly how many professional Portuguese journalists there are10, a situation which distorts empirical studies aimed at establishing, for example, the extent of job insecurity, which affects large numbers of people.

On entering the journalistic profession, Sara Meireles Graça (2007) wrote that "since there is no standard professional career pattern, and no training programmes or universal criteria for the qualifications required to work in journalism, applicants remain in the limbo of random chance, and are asked to drop their academic baggage (if they have any) and incorporate methods of progression similar to those of their colleagues in the other careers they have chosen."

Data collected in 1997 shows that it is the business criterion which rules in access to the profession. Younger journalists are the most vulnerable, since they are in practice condemned to a system of renewable fixed-term contracts, which go beyond even the limits set out in legislation (Accardo, 1998). With the quantity of journalism applicants emerging from Portuguese universities every year, media companies have little difficulty in replacing their labour force. Sara Meireles Graça mentions that the willingness to work "without a safety net", even in an informal internship, is a significant factor when trying to enter the profession; but it weakens the position of those starting out (who get involved in insecure job situations and are tied to the vicissitudes of the market). She argues that this also weakens the group of professionals as a whole, and even affects the news produced, which becomes subject to business values pleasing to the bosses (2007:56).

In the analytical model which he constructed in Le Salarié de la Precarité, Les Nouvelles Formes de l'Intégration Profissionelle (PUF, Paris, 2000), Serge Paugam sees employment (the job) and activity (the work) as two fundamental aspects of the process of incorporation into a profession. The job as a guarantee of social rights, deriving from a stable and lasting contractual relationship, and the work as the platform for carrying out tasks which motivate, are well paid, and given recognition by the organization. These characteristics are jeopardized when there is job insecurity (Matos, 2011). Job insecurity gives rise to doing work which is not satisfying, feelings of not being socially useful and, in extremis, of alienation. The main feature of job insecurity is the instability and uncertainty arising from the weakness of the contractual tie. Serge Paugam uses the expression "uncertain integration" for situations in which job insecurity does not necessarily destroy the possibility of learning and improvement and achieving job and career satisfaction (Matos, 2011). Paugam differentiates between "secure integration", in which individuals are satisfied in their work and their jobs are stable; "uncertain integration", which involves satisfaction in one's work, but a negative relation to the terms of employment; "constrained integration", in which there is a negative relation to the job but satisfaction with the terms of employment; and finally "disqualifying integration" - a negative relation to both the job and the terms of employment (dual insecurity situation).

The term "insecurity" should not be interpreted as it was in the nineteenth century. As Accardo mentions, this new type of proletariat, which is comparable in many ways to that of the industrial class, is in many other ways different: the characteristics of these "new poor" workers in symbolic production have enabled them to create an illusion -social origins, cultural capital, dispositions. Journalism thus cannot avoid insecurity but, unlike what has occurred in other fields, media companies cannot delocalize. The trend towards greater job insecurity is not only confirmed, it also accelerates year by year (Accardo, 1998:15).

We find Bourdieu's concept of social domination (1998: 30) in the circumstances and immiseration of these "poor" journalists. A journalist who is insecure in his job experiences the pain of being socially devalued, which is damaging to his self-esteem (Accardo, 1998: 31). Instead of being in a prestigious profession, he is embarrassed. Yet there is a certain happiness in belonging or being part of the tribe of journalists which may help them to bear the greatest of frustrations. "Poor" journalists are basically happy to be what they are and where they are. Contentment today is based on consent (Accardo, 1998: 37). The testimonies in the book Journalistes Précaires show us how the work of the intellect and the status of "intelligence" have evolved in a world dominated by the logic of the market (Accardo, 1998:11). The book "Precários em Portugal" states that the management ideology of the new capitalist spirit promotes the idea that everyone should constantly be giving their utmost, and be physically and emotionally involved in the pursuit of the same objectives (Matos, 2011: 103).

 

Young Portuguese Journalists: a socio-graphic description

A number of conclusions can be drawn from an analysis of the data supplied by the CCPJ on Portuguese journalists born after 1975 who are currently active. But first there is a necessary caveat: the data we have cover only those who hold a professional journalist's licence. We believe there are a large number of people active in journalism and accredited by the CCPJ, even though the Journalist's Statute states that no media company may employ or retain as a professional journalist any individual who does not hold the corresponding professional licence, unless that person is waiting for that licence to be issued.11 It should be noted that the law states it is the carrying on of the profession as a principal occupation which makes the journalist's activity legal, and not the journalist's skills or professional qualifications (Graça, 2007: p. 157). Even if it is in fact relevant to study those who work as journalists without a professional permit, the truth is that there is no available data for that group.

There are a number of reasons for setting this parameter (those born in 1975 and after), above all the transition to democracy in Portugal, which took place after the revolution of 1974 and was a decisive landmark in the development of the media in Portugal. It was also in the 1970s that we witnessed the birth of many media organizations and the liberalization of the sector, which ceased to be state-controlled, as well as the first university course in communication studies. In the subsequent decades there was explosive growth in the media in Portugal, and in the number of journalists, but in recent years there has been a contraction as many organizations have shut down and unemployment has risen in the profession.

A clear sign of contraction in the sector is the number of journalists who are 36 or under (and hold a licence) in the years 2006, 2009 and 2011. The grand total was 3,237 in 200612, while in 2011 it is only 2,337 - a decline of almost one-third over a period of five years. The data for 2009, however, are curious: the number of journalists with licences or working as interns is higher than in 2006, although this is only true for young journalists and not for the entire group, which recorded a decline, from 7,402 in 2006 to 6,917 in 2009 ( Rebelo et al, 2011: 44). In 2006, there were 523 holders of internship provisional licences aged below 36; these numbered 574 in 2009 and 229 in 2011. The closure of several media organizations accounts for these numbers, as does the international economic and financial crisis which affected the Eurozone, and particularly Portugal.

A statistical analysis of the data from the CCPJ, which since 1998 has been the institution legally responsible for issuing licences for the practice of journalism, enables us, while preserving the anonymity of the holders, to confirm some of the trends which had been identified in the Sociological Profile of the Portuguese Journalist (Perfil Sociológico do Jornalista Português)13, such as increasing feminization, journalists getting younger, and having better academic qualifications (in this sample, an undergraduate degree is  already the most common academic qualification), the dominance of the Lisbon metropolitan area over the rest of the country in terms of jobs in journalism14 and the curious fact that the press is still the media organization employing the largest number of journalists, a trend which goes counter to the turn-of-the-century euphoria over multimedia. In fact, multimedia comes behind TV, radio and the news agencies in volume of employment.

Looking at the detail of entry into the profession, we can see that 2011 was an exceptional year, with 405 new journalists entering the profession.

 

 

Among young journalists, 59% are women. The number of women entering the profession has been greater than the number of men since 2003, which leads us to state that this trend may increase in forthcoming years, given the stability of the numbers, the effects of ageing, and the retirement of older generations (Rebelo et al, 2011: 47). If we break the data down by type of licence, we may observe that the only type for which women are under-represented is the (18 months) Internship Provisional Licence - in other words, those who do not have a degree in media studies. At the management level, however, there continue to be a greater number of men in management and editorial roles.15

The ages of the journalists in this sample range from 19 to 37. But approximately 70% licensed journalists and interns were 30 or over at the end of 2011, which may indicate that younger journalists have had difficulty entering the profession. The journalists born after 1975 began to reach editorships 1996 onwards (the year in which the first licences in this sample were issued). In other words, some of them found a sector which was still expanding, as it did until the beginning of the new century.

The tendency for the profession to get younger in recent decades has brought some freshness and a new sensibility in terms of topics and forms. However, the presence of a lot of young people in the editing rooms also creates problems. Joaquim Fidalgo says that younger journalists are often thrown into highly complex and emotional news situations, and believes that coverage of these types of event should be reserved for more experienced professionals (Fidalgo, 2002: 8). Fidalgo also mentions "the sanctification of a "youthful" and "innovative" posture in journalism", which often leads to significant weaknesses in media projects if they are not tempered by some experienced and hardened professionalism.

As far as academic qualifications are concerned, 44% of young journalists have degrees. If we add those who attended university, the percentage rises to 81.6%, while those with secondary education alone constituted less than 15%. Even so, we found five cases of journalists who had only completed the basic cycle of school education.

If we look at the type of medium in which young journalists are working, we may observe that it is the Press which still employs the largest number of journalists (1,505, for both print and online editions - 64% of the total), followed by Television (333 - 14%), Radio (223 - 10%) and News Agencies (86 - 4%). Multimedia makes fifth place, with 79 journalists, below it comes under the 'others' categories, Production and Miscellaneous. This goes counter to the preconceived notion that young journalists are mostly working in multimedia: they are almost all to be found in the so-called traditional media (if we include the News Agencies, the percentage rises to 91%). Rebelo points out (2011: 98), there are a number of professionals working full-time on online editions of the newspapers, television and radio stations, who state these as their place of work. It is quite likely that there are many multimedia journalists spread across the press, radio, television, and news agency categories, with only those working on the setting up and/or management of independent websites being classified as multimedia journalists, in other words, those who have no organic link to the traditional media. In addition, as mentioned in the book "Ser Jornalista em Portugal" (Being a Journalist in Portugal) (Rebelo et al, 2011: 51), the precise nature of "other media" has still to be explained.

In a comparison of academic qualifications with occupational categories, we find 8% of journalists in management and editorial roles who have only secondary education (in total, 79 people identified their roles as managerial or editorial, equivalent to 3% of the total in the sample, a value which we may interpret as being residual).16 In these management roles, the most common academic qualification is attendance at university, followed closely by those who have degrees. We may conclude from these numbers that higher academic qualifications do not equate to roles carrying greater responsibility: we found only 2 master-s degree holders, out of the 79.

If we seek to examine the academic qualifications by medium, we may find that the most common type of qualification amongst those who work in the Press, Television, Radio, Multimedia, Production and Miscellaneous is the degree. Only among those who work in News Agencies and Other Media is attendance at university the most common qualification.

Journalists who have completed secondary education are distributed as follows: 58% in the press (bearing in mind that most journalists work in the press), 19% in television 11% in radio. Values for other media are residual - below 4%. Of those who attended secondary school, 67% are in the press, 12% in television and 10% in radio. Here too the figure for other media does not exceed 4%. IN cases of degree holders, there are 65% in the press, 14% in television, 9% in radio and 5% in multimedia. For other levels of attainment (basic schooling, master's, undefined, postgraduate and technical-professional), the percentages are insignificant.

Taking the academic qualifications of the interns (for those who supplied the information), nearly all had completed undergraduate degrees - in only one case did we find an intern with secondary education.

Comparing year of entry to the profession with age ranges, the commonest age range is 30 to 34 years (920), and the year in which the majority of those journalists started their careers was 2004. Below this comes the 35 to 39 age range (in this sample, we only took into account those aged up to 37, so this figure should be read as those between the ages of 35 and 37 - 763 journalists), a good proportion of them having started work between 2001 and 2002. For the 25 to 29 age range we find 563 persons, of which almost half (217) started work in 2011.

 

 

2011 was really an exceptional year for numbers of entrants into nearly all media. Television, for example, broke the symbolic barrier of 50 entrants in 2011 alone (75).

 

 

Active professional journalists aged 37 or under occupied senior positions in the traditional media.

A look at the district wise composition of young journalists confirms the dominance of the Lisbon district (37% of the respondents). Only 8% of the respondents belong to the Porto district. Then come the Coimbra district and the Autonomous Regions, but with very low, residual percentages.17 Remy Rieffel describes a similar situation in France, where there is a heavy concentration of journalists in the Paris region. He explains this by the fact that the main offices of the major national editorial groups are in the capital and its metropolitan area, as well as to the centres of political, economic and cultural decision-making. Such proximity encourages contacts between the journalistic and ruling elites in France (2003, p.134), and we believe these conclusions regarding such similarities can be extrapolated to Portugal, unlike what happens in the US or Germany, where editorial boards are more widely dispersed in geographical terms.

The interpretation of these numbers may be affected by the suggestion that many local media organizations do not demand that journalists have the professional licence, and often employ people who are not legally entitled to work as journalists. Such situations are of residual significance in the national media, which are mostly to be found in the metropolitan areas of Lisbon and Porto.

While for journalists as a whole geographical area is closely related to the rate of feminization in the profession, which is most clearly visible in the Lisbon metropolitan area, among these younger journalists the rate of feminization is broadly uniform across the country, as are their academic qualifications (Rebelo, 2011: 158). There is no imbalance between the metropolitan areas of Lisbon and Porto and the rest of the country, with the degree being the commonest form of qualification in almost all districts.

As far as employment is concerned, fewer than 2% stated that they are unemployed.18 The most common form of contractual tie is the salaried journalist situation. 16% of journalists are self-employed, and 3% of journalists chose not to specify their employment status.

 

 

A look at employment status by gender shows that there are more men than women (one man more) in only one category, unemployment. For all other categories - salaried worker, self-employed or undefined, women are in the majority. By age range, those aged 30 to 34 are the most numerous among the unemployed, salaried workers and the self-employed. Only in the "Undefined" category is the 25 to 29 age range more numerous. It is curious to note that 44% of unemployed journalists are aged between 30 and 34. At first sight it seems that most of the unemployed are not among recent graduates (with the introduction of the Bologna process in higher education and with three-year degrees, new graduates in media or journalism courses finish at the age of 21). In the 20 to 24 age range we have just one case of unemployment, but we should bear in mind that our sample is made up of those who have a professional licence, and not of the hundreds of recent graduates in journalism and similar courses who, when they fail to get a job, do not even apply for the professional licence and so are not included in these numbers.

In breaking down employment status by medium, we find almost all the unemployed in the "Undefined" category. For news agencies, the press, multimedia, production, radio, television and miscellaneous the most common form of contract type is the salaried journalist. The only medium in which we find more self-employed journalists is "Other" (which may just mean that these journalists want to leave all possibilities open and not limit themselves to just one medium).

In examining the type of medium by gender, men are in the majority only in the "Undefined" and "Other" categories. In all other cases - news agencies, the press, multimedia, production, radio, television and miscellaneous - there are more women than men.

Most young journalists are single. This fact should be seen in the light of a more general social trend, whereby the number of marriages has fallen overall and the average age of marriage, according to the most recent National Statistics Institute (INE) figures19, is already above 30 for men and 28 for women. Even so, the percentage is still high - 75% of the total. Next come married journalists, with 21%. Those who are divorced or in civil partnerships are far fewer in number i.e. 3% and 1% respectively. We find only two each for the widowed or undefined, probably because this is a youthful sample.

 

 

An analysis of marital status and gender shows that there are more single women journalists up to age 37 (76%) than men (73%); in percentage terms there are more young male journalists who are married (24%) than there are women (20%). Although these differences are not very significant, we may assume that young female journalists may feel greater pressure to devote themselves to their careers, delaying marriage and procreation, while men are not normally affected by these issues. The high number of single persons may be accounted for by the fact that this is a profession with long hours, variable shifts, and often having to work at weekends, aspects which may adversely affect social and family life.20

 

 

The percentage of divorced persons is the same for both sexes (3%), as is those who are in civil partnerships - a little above 1%. Breaking this down by type of licence, single status is the most common for both those who hold the professional licence and those who hold a provisional licence.

New data made available by the CCPJ in March 2012, which included a new variable, the field in which journalists obtained their degrees, enable us to draw some further conclusions: first, the number of eligible journalists in the sample of those born after 1975 fell from 2,337 to 1,965.21 Of those 1,965 journalists or aspiring journalists, 1,585 had attended or completed a university course (approximately 81%). Of this group, 1,155 provided information on the courses they had attended. An analysis of the fields in which they studied shows that the largest number of journalists studied Communication Studies (330), followed by Journalism (201), Media (217), and Culture and Media (69), while nearly all the rest are spread across other courses in the field of communication. The above data indicates that a higher degree in journalism is a pathway to entry to the profession. The different disciplines which are highlighted are Law (19), Economics (13, of which two are Master's degrees) and International Relations (12, one holds a Master's degree). This reflects the quest for specialization in one particular area, a need which many journalists say they feel. In other words, they look for a general degree in journalism followed by a Master's degree in a specialized field.

We have sought to complement the data in this study with information drawn from the Personnel Tables (Quadros de Pessoal)22 of the Strategy and Planning Office of the Ministry of Solidarity and Social Security, which relate to the year 2009. With this information we have been able to analyze journalists' salary levels. While CCPJ data are provided by the journalists, these figures enable us to compare the information with numbers provided by the media companies themselves. We should however point out that these figures relate only to journalists who have full-time contracts and receive their full salary. In all cases they are arithmetical averages. 23

An age-based analysis shows that those who born after 1975 earn less than those who are older, a situation which may be directly related to seniority in the profession. In the under 37 group, by role, the average salary of a male Editor in Chief is €1,551.93, while a woman in the same position earns €1,177.52 (a difference of almost €400). Among journalists, the gender gap in salaries is not as wide, but is still present: men earn on average €1,211.18 and women €1,052.04. A male editor earns on average €1,462.27 and a female editor €1,324.20. The gender gap is widest for correspondents, where male salaries are on average €2,666.11, while the average female salary is €1,655.59.

 

 

An analysis of remuneration for this same sample (those born from 1975 onwards), and comparing it with academic qualifications shows that, for journalists and correspondents, having a university education does not equate to higher pay; on the contrary, it is those with secondary and post-secondary education who have the highest levels of pay. However, in all other roles - editor in chief, editor and other writers, journalists and similar professions, higher qualifications correspond to higher pay. Matching roles to districts, it is no surprise that the highest levels of pay for all roles are found in the Lisbon district: editor in chief, journalist, correspondent, editor and other writers, journalists and similar professions. This is explained by the fact that the major national media companies have their head offices and main editorial offices in the capital.

If we look for the opposite, that is to say in which districts salaries by type of role were lowest; we may observe that there are several districts in which average remuneration for some roles is close to the minimum wage, which at the time was €450.24 The district with the lowest average remuneration for editors in chief was Castelo Branco (€599.12); the average wage of journalists in the Viana do Castelo district was €462.93; editors had the lowest average salaries in the Braga district (€560.34), while Viseu was the worst district for remuneration of "Other writers, journalists or similar professions" (€450).

 

 

This table also enables us to measure disparities in salaries for each job type by district, for those born in 1975 or later. The average salary of an Editor in Chief varies between €599.12 and €1,653.42. The average salary of an editor varies between approximately €560.34 and €1,502.67. That of journalists varies between slightly lower values - from €462.93 up to €1,242.76, on average. Another noteworthy fact is the number of districts in which there are neither editors in chief nor editors, while only the districts of Lisbon and Porto have correspondents.

As far as remuneration by type of medium is concerned, once again it is male workers who are better paid. These data cover various job types (not just in journalism). But it can be seen that radio is the media field with the lowest remuneration, while TV and news agencies offer the highest. Below these are editors of magazines and other periodicals, followed by newspaper editors and activities related to film, video and TV programmes.

In line with expectations, for all job types the best-paid positions are those in which the jobholder has a no fixed term (i.e. permanent) contract of employment. Below these are fixed-term contracts, followed by undefined term temporary contracts and those who do not fit any category.

The data supplied by the CCPJ does not enable us to comment on the social origins and educational trajectories of young journalists. But the team led by José Rebelo, who worked on the Sociological Profile of the Portuguese Journalist and is currently conducting the study entitled "The New Generations of Journalists in Portugal" (of which this writer is a part), hopes shortly to submit results on this and other aspects of the study, based on a survey of this precise group of 1,965 journalists. Other aspects which we will examine using the above-mentioned survey are entering the profession, working conditions, constraints on access to the profession, and relationships with the new information and communication technologies.

 

Conclusion

The study was undertaken with the hypothesis that the current generation of young Portuguese journalists is different from earlier generations because of the ways in which they enter the profession, their training, their professional practices and their relationship with technology. This has enabled us to define the profile of the young Portuguese journalist, based on the sociographical analysis of the CCPJ data: she is a woman aged just over 30 and in all probability works in the Lisbon metropolitan area. In addition she is single, has a degree in Journalism, Communication or Media Studies, has done a professional internship and may have undertaken postgraduate course. She probably works in newspapers, is employed on a salaried basis with a fixed-term work contract, and holds a journalist's professional licence. She is not a manager in the media company she works for, but rather an active full-time journalist. Her salary is around €1,200 per month. A man in her position would have a slightly higher salary, and would be more likely to have risen to a management position. Other variables remain the same, despite the gender difference.

There are several differences if we compare this profile to that of the previous generation of Portuguese journalists (Rebelo et al., 2011): above all, he was male, and his qualifications lay somewhere between secondary and higher education. He would have been equally likely to have been working in the Lisbon metropolitan area, and be working in newspapers. Despite being a journalist, he could rise to a management position. We do not have salary data to enable us to make an income comparison.

We have also attempted to map the changes which have taken place (and are still ongoing) in the media sector in recent years, and the way in which the resulting constraints define this new generation of journalists and the very concept of journalism itself.

The field of journalism is corrupted by the abundance of spare labour (whether specialized or not), in the form of those who are prepared to work at very low cost or even for no remuneration at all (Graça, 2007: 128). In this study we have confined our sociographical analysis to those who hold a professional journalist's licence. We have no data on the hundreds (or thousands?) of aspiring journalists who emerge from the universities every year and cannot find jobs in the sector, nor do we have the actual numbers of the unemployed in the profession.

The financial crisis, new technologies, time constraints, principles of professional ethics facing a more commercial approach on the part of the media, and the insecurity associated with new forms of work in journalism are some of the challenges facing the profession. It is young people who face the bulk of those challenges, those who have been in the profession for only a short time and are less protected. While insecurity is a problem in other professions too, it is particularly so in journalism because it jeopardizes the principle of freedom of the press and is closely tied to the concept of democracy itself.

We cannot yet see how journalists may overcome the fact that they are cogs in a non-stop machine, subjugated to the industry in which they work (Graça, 2007: 150). Financial constraints create increasing insecurity in terms of their professional status, and new players take on some of the functions which were hitherto reserved for the media. The crisis is not uniform across all media segments - it is the press which is the main victim. The partial loss of identity these professionals are suffering in their day-to-day lives is reflected in their posture towards their peers, their bosses, the general public and other social actors.

In analysing journalism's current situation in the light of the macro-social changes taking place in the West, as Graça suggests - "underlying the hypothesis is the idea that journalism is a part of and is affected by the enormous changes which today's societies are undergoing as a result of technical and economic progress and the globalizing tendencies of neo-liberalism. By this we mean the combination of technological innovation with the realities of the commercial world, at a time when the market is being imposed as the only mechanism for regulating the economy" (Graça, 2007: 13) - we must also reflect on who the new journalists are who are the future of the profession, what their education and training have been, and on their role and motivations in a field which is of such crucial importance for the democratic model of society.

 

Sources:

Comissão da Carteira Profissional do Jornalista (http://www.ccpj.pt/ccpj.htm)

Instituto Nacional de Estatística - Indicadores Socais, 2010 (http://www.ine.pt/xportal/xmain?xpid=INE&xpgid=ine_publicacoes&PUBLICACOESpub_boui=132425996&PUBLICACOESmodo=2)

Fórum de Jornalistas (http://forumjornalistas.wordpress.com/)

Projeto Jornalismo e Sociedade (http://futurojornalismo.org/np4/home.html)

Lei 1/99 de 20 de Setembro (Estatuto do Jornalista)

Lei 2/99 de 13 de Janeiro (Lei da Imprensa)

Lei da Concentração dos Média

Quadros de Pessoal 2009 do GEP/MSSS

Sindicato dos Jornalistas (http://www.jornalistas.eu/)

 

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NOTAS

1 Arnaud Gonzague, "A l'origine du mal journalistique. écoles de Journalisme: prêt-à-penser ou prêts à penser?" in Uzine, 8 February 2001. Internet. Available at http://www.uzine.net/article544.html

2 Jorge Pedro Sousa, "O Desejado. Para um Perfil do Candidato a Jornalista pretendido pelos órgãos de Comunicação Social" [The Wanted One. Towards a profile of the journalist desired by Media Organizations], 1997. Internet. Available at : http://bocc.ubi.pt/pag/sousa-jorge-pedro-odesejado.html

3 José Rebelo, "O Ensino e a Investigação das Ciências da Comunicação e Portugal" [Teaching and Research in Communication Studies in Portugal], in Trajectos. Revista de Comunicação, Cultura e Educação, nº1, Lisboa, Editorial Notícias/ISCTE, June 2002, p.14

4 Cf. "Por uma agenda dos poderes públicos para os media - Contributo do Sindicato dos Jornalistas", [For an agenda of public power for the media - contribution by the Union of Journalists] available online at http://www.jornalistas.eu/?n=1352 and consulted on 20 February 2012.

5 In the press alone there was a loss of 452 jobs between 2006 and 2010, a number which rises to 500 if radio and TV are taken in account as well. See http://forumjornalistas.wordpress.com/2012/04/09/empresas-de-imprensa-reduziram-450-colaboradores-entre-2006-e-2010/

6 See http://forumjornalistas.wordpress.com/2012/04/09/custos-com-remuneracao-das-administracoes-sobem-13/

7 See http://www.jornalistas.eu/ficheiros/1933247647_Desemprego_2012_balanco_e_alertas_verspublic.pdf

8 It is not known how many claims were lodged in regional social security offices, which cover journalists working for companies which do not contribute to the CPAFJ, as well as professional journalists who are wrongly classified as performing other jobs in the companies concerned. These numbers are therefore short of the actual position, in that they refer only to those registered at the CPAFJ.

9 See the study by the Union of Journalists, available at: http://www.jornalistas.eu/ficheiros/1933247647_Desemprego_2012_balanco_e_alertas_verspublic.pdf

10 The study by Maria da Conceição Sequeira Gonçalves, Jornalistas sem Carteira: as "sobras de um inquérito" [Journalists without a licence, the leftovers of a survey] states that, of the 1,000 respondents to the First National Survey of Portuguese Journalists (1990), 397 were working with no professional licence.

11 Cf. The Journalist Statute, Law 1/99 of 13 January, Article 4, which states "1 - It is a condition for carrying on the journalism profession that the journalist be a holder of the corresponding licence, which is issued by a Committee on Professional Licensing of Journalists, the membership and responsibilities of which are laid down by law.

2 - No company in the media business may employ or retain, as a professional journalist, a person who cannot prove he is licensed, in accordance with clause 1 above, unless that person has applied for the licence and is awaiting a decision on their application."

12 The CCPJ data for 2006 differentiated between the Professional Journalist's Licence and the Special Employee Card. The number quoted in this article (3,237) is the sum of these two occupational categories, given that current data does not differentiate between them. The individual data, for reference purposes, are as follows: 3,202 holders of professional licences and 35 holders of the special employee card.

13 A project funded by the Fundação para a Ciência e Tecnologia and carried out at CIES-ISCTE.

14 Earlier studies, which dealt with all journalists and not just young ones, showed that the concentration of journalists in Lisbon had been falling, even though it was always significant: in 1988, Paquete de Oliveira found that 80% of professional journalists worked in the Lisbon metropolitan area; in 1991, José Luís Garcia estimated this number at 51%. Fifteen years later, in 2006, using the data supplied by the CCPJ for the Sociological Profile of the Portuguese Journalist, co-ordinated by José Rebelo, we find that 60% of all professional journalists were working in the Lisbon metropolitan area (Cf. Ser Jornalista em Portugal: p.154).

15 In management roles we find 23 men for 11 women, while in editorial roles we find 34 men as against 27 women.

16 In "Ser Jornalista em Portugal", José Rebelo argues that in addition to segregation by gender, management are generally selected from the older age groups, which supposedly contain the more experienced and better known journalists (2011: 28).

17 When regional newspapers became 'postage paid', one of the compensatory measures was that all journalists working on them should have a professional licence, which was often not the case. This rule led to an increase in the numbers of licensed professional journalists working outside the Lisbon and Porto metropolitan areas (Rebelo, 2011: p.155).

18 Remy Rieffel warns that employment numbers in journalism need to be interpreted with care, given that some journalists are reluctant to state they are unemployed and because the Committee classifies them as workers as long as they perform a significant number of jobs on a collaborative basis (2003: 133).

19 In terms of trends, between 2004 and 2010 the number of marriages between people of opposite sexes fell 19.2%, and the average age at marriage went from 30.9 to 34.1 years for men and from 28.5 to 31.6 years for women. Cf. Indicadores Sociais 2010, Instituto Nacional de Estatística, p.39, available at http://www.ine.pt/xportal/xmain?xpid=INE&xpgid=ine_publicacoes&PUBLICACOESpub_boui=132425996&PUBLICACOESmodo=2

20 The writer hopes shortly to analyse these issues in greater depth, based on the answers to a survey of this group which is being conducted by the FCT-funded team currently working on the "Young Journalists" project at CIES-IUL.

21 From 2011 onwards, professional licenses had to be renewed not every two years, but two calendar years since the last renewal. That is to say, there is no longer a mandatory renewal time for all journalists, but renewals now occur every month, so data on journalists is constantly changing.

22 Personnel Tables (Quadros de Pessoal) are produced annually by the Strategy and Planning Office of the Ministry of Solidarity and Social Security (Gabinete de Estratégia e Planeamento, Ministério da Solidariedade e Segurança Social) and derive from a compulsory survey of all "individual or corporate persons who employ workers", "national, regional and local administrative departments and public bodies employing workers on the legal basis of an individual work contract, in relation to those workers alone". We are therefore discussing all workers in the private sector and those in the public sector who have individual work contracts.

23 In the national Catalogue of Professions, journalists are in group 2 - Specialist, Intellectual and Scientific Professions, and within this category they fall into the sub-category of Writers, Journalists and Similar Professions.

24 Cf. Ministry of Labour and Social Solidarity Decree-Law 246 /2008 of 18 December: http://www.dgert.mtss.gov.pt/trabalho/rendimentos/smns/smn_2009.htm

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