European Federation of Journalists

1 in 3 French journalists want to quit their job

Journalism seems to be no longer an attractive profession. At least, this seems to be the conclusion suggested by the survey “Evolution and changes in the journalism professions” carried out by the National Union of Journalists (SNJ) and the evaluation and prevention of occupational risks office Technologia. The study has analysed the evolution of journalism in France since 2010 and revealed that 34% of journalists respondents said they would quite the profession.

The study is the follow-up of a first research “Actual journalists’ work, quality of information and democracy” launched in 2011 by the above organisations. The latest study showed three major trends in the media sector:

  • the changing patterns in the way audiences consume information,

  • the traditional economic model is being challenged,

  • the distinction between professional and citizen journalists is becoming blurred in a society where new information technologies allow anyone to produce and spread information.

The study focuses on the well-being of journalists by taking into account the major trends affecting the industry. It asked  1.135 journalists how they see the changes affecting their works and how they cope with such changes.

The key findings are:

  • Ill-defined tasks: several functions as editors (38%) or reporters (21%) are declining and new roles emerge (11% of web editors, desk information, community managers, data journalists). The majority of the respondents (77%) consider their initial training in line with their current profession. However, this feeling of adequacy decreases proportionally with age (one third of over 50 years perceive a mismatch). “Some questions about the need of additional training and the definition of professions and tasks arise .” The researchers also show interpretative differences between the definition of the profession that journalists give, that their employers give and that the legal framework regulate. Only 37% of respondents note that their contract defines specifically their work, referring to the general qualification of journalists and the collective agreement in their sector.
  • Difficult beginning : Although the majority of journalists (72%) have a permanent contract while only 46% of those under 30 years have a permanent contract. “Temporary contracts and the freelance work become indispensable step and are often longer than the qualifying period defined by the Committee of journalists’ press cards (one year for graduate schools recognised by the profession and two years for the others). In total, more than half (54%) of young journalists are in a precarious situation.” 
  • The desire to leave their company or the profession :  34% of the journalists explained that they were willing to change profession or company. According to the researchers, this rate indicate the need for several press workers (mostly freelancers and temporary contracters) to diversify their source of income. For all workers, they fear that the crisis in the sector threatens their employment. Part-time workers also increased. Whether chosen or imposed, part-time workers made up of 21% of the survey respondents. 1 in 5 journalists surveyed are part-time workers making it higher than the French national average (18,7%).
  • Difficult shedules. Over 60% of respondents work more than eight hours a day; almost 20% work more than 10 hours a day. Half of the journalists work on weekends and on holidays. 46% of them feel that they do not have enough recovery time between busy periods.
  • The intensity of the work : 81% of journalists estimated that the intensity of the work is higher than five years ago.
  • The risen workload: Three quarters of the respondents consider their risen workload. The researchers explain this sustainable trend by a “scissors effect” (fewer staff and more tasks).
  • Versatile activities : 87% of workers feel their work versatile. Among them, 58% attribute this versatility to the multiplication of media formats.
  • Blurring editorial policies : 41% of the respondents consider that the editorial policy of their media exists while 27% consider that it does not exist. “This situation does not cause only disadvantages. In the short term, the blurring of the editorial policy allows everyone to hear it as he wants. But when difficult periods (acquisition, reorganization, merger, social plans) occur, this lack of clarity is badly managed.
  • Limited debates : More than half of the respondents said that the editorial meetings are not (longer) a forum of debate.89% feel that they have the freedom to propose topics.
  • A job that makes sense for those who exercise. 80% expressed to be satisfied and 77% to be proud of their jobs.


For more information, you can read the study in French here.

(Crédit illu: