IFJ: Unions need to shape the future for digital journalism

‘Unions need to shape the future for digital journalism’ was the message emerging from a two day workshop with union leaders and digital media activists held in Kiev 22 and 23 October.

© IFJ

Research conducted by unions revealed a digital wild west for online media outlets combining the best of journalism with the populist trolls and masters of dark propaganda in an unregulated media scene that paints a chilling dystopian future for journalism unless urgent action can be taken.

With the financial bottom falling out of mainstream media those that survive do so by a thread or are propped up by state and political interests that use the media to pursue their own political or business ends. Quality journalism is migrating online where it is freer but also up against aggressive propaganda outlets.

While opportunities grow for unions to recruit digital journalists as jobs increasingly move online, most outlets are small, financially weak, often unregistered, rarely offer contracts and provide minimal pay.

There is much work for unions to do to help bring these media workers into the profession, improve their conditions and bring some order to the sector that can enable quality journalism to flourish.

Digital media inevitably attract young workers born digitally literate but with little awareness of the basics of journalism. Meanwhile mid-career journalists fear the technical revolution will sweep them out of their jobs unless they can adapt quickly.

Now is not the time for unions to sit back and ignore the future, instead they need to be part of shaping it.

  • They first need to recruit young digital workers if they are to understand the sector, build it and shape it.
  • New services need to be developed, setting minimum working conditions in digital media and strengthening support networks
  • Training programmes need to be developed to provide mid-career journalists with the new techniques available to journalism such as Digital storytelling, Data journalism and search engine optimization and train young media workers in the basics of journalism
  • The unions need to act young and act digital to be relevant and attractive to journalists.
  • In particular they need to continue to be the voice of journalists to act against intimidation, violence and oppression whether offline or online.

The workshop brought together IFJ affiliates from Belarus Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia, Turkey and Ukraine. It was supported by the Friedich Ebert Stiftung and Union To Union as part of the IFJ’s global digital media organizing campaign.

It was jointly hosted by the National Union of Journalists of Ukraine and the Independent Media Trade Union of Ukraine.

For more information, please contact IFJ on +32 2 235 22 16

The IFJ represents more than 600,000 journalists in 146 countries

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