Freelance journalism is growing rapidly around Europe. Sadly many of these are not willing freelances. The majority of new freelances are forced. Journalists either sacked from their previous employment and then taken on at less cost to provide freelance services to the same company, or journalists newly entered in the profession who discover that media are increasingly reluctant to offer full-time contracts to new comers.
If the trend continues within a few years the entire profession will be dominated by journalists on insecure, porly paid and temporary contracts.
The impact on the profession and on the quality of journalism is likely to be devastating. Journalists will be forced to sell their work like any other product considered for its commerial value only. Ethics, professional independence, and public service values will be lost.
How can journalists’ unions respond? They need to recruit and organise freelances so that they can identify their needs. Then they need to develop strategies to improve their conditions as the most vulnerable members of the profession. And they need to campaign to defend their rights and to set minimum fees for their work.
The IFJ and EFJ Freelance Expert Group exchanges experiences between national journalists’ unions on how to do this. It is available to assist the NUNS freelance group whenever requested.
Finally, we give our support in the campaign against dismissals of freelance journalists from RTS. This issue exposes the vulnerability of the profession and all journalists need to show their solidarity and support.
Chair, European Federation of Journalists