The #COVID19 pandemic has had devastating impacts on journalists' jobs. Many media around the world have closed down and countless jobs have disappeared since the beginning of the pandemic, while many journalists are experiencing months-long delays in receiving their wages, the Federation says, highlighting the thousands of media workers who have no means of earning while the earnings of many media owners continues to increase.
In Pakistan over 8,000 of an estimated 20,000 journalistslost their jobs in 2020 alone, and rural and district staff were more likely to be retrenched. In Nepal, IFJ affiliate the Federation of Nepali Journalists (FNJ) took up more than500 complaints relating to job loss and non-payment of salaryin 2020. In Australia,123 newsrooms have closed since January 2019 leaving many journalists jobless. In the US,the number of newsroom layoffs by June 2020 had doubled in comparison to previous years. In Latin America, 16.7% of journalists have been suspended during the pandemic.
In Africa, a majority of journalists are denied even a basic contract. Union leaders have highlighted the wave of job losses and salary cuts resulting from measures imposed in response to Covid-19. In South Africa, for example, 60% of freelancers have lost almost 70% of their income during the pandemic.
Journalists unions have denounced salary freezes and redundancies while media bosses have seen their pay rise. In the UK, the National Union of Journalists has warned that while the BBC's director general's salary had increased by £75,000 (88 000 euros) in September 2021,staff have experienced pay freezes, budget cuts and redundancies.
Besides layoffs, salary cuts and delays in payments, the drop in advertising revenues during the pandemic has put many media under threat and severely impacted jobs in newsrooms. The decline in advertising revenues from March to August 2020 amounted to32% in Spain. In the US the total estimated advertising revenue for the newspaper industry in 2020 was down29% from 2019. In Poland, the drop experienced by regional newspapers amounted to80% in the second quarter of 2020.
IFJ General Secretary Anthony Bellanger said: "Quality information is essential for citizens in times of crisis but there can be no trustworthy information without professional journalists. It is high time for action to save jobs in media to support information as a public good and stop making profits on the back of media workers. On World Day for Decent Work we call on global media companies and governments to work with unions to save jobs, invest in journalism and support the most precarious workers in the media."
The IFJ launched theGlobal Platform for Quality Journalismin 2020, a plan to save the most badly affected media and protect the most precarious journalists, calling on all national governments to commit to quality journalism at a time of misinformation through strong political and economic measures that will sustain quality media and professional journalists.
The Federation recommends in particular steps to:
- Tax the revenues of the GAFAM – Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon, Microsoft - and use the funds raised to support independent media and jobs
- Ensure that any journalism-recovery stimulus be seeded with the necessary support to revitalise adequately staffed newsrooms able to deliver trustworthy news and information,
- Give priority support to precarious journalists (including freelancers) by creating a social protection fund, a national minimum wage, exempting them from income tax and granting them bank loans at reduced rates.
- Strengthen journalists' authors' rights in order to increase their income.