European Federation of Journalists

COVID-19: some media are cutting back on the working conditions of journalists

Picture credit: Luis Robayo / AFP.

The work of journalists is more necessary than ever, in a context of health crisis. The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) welcomes the professional and social commitment of its members. However, the EFJ is strongly concerned about the cost-cutting measures (salary cuts, unilateral reductions in working conditions, etc.) imposed on journalists and media workers by some media companies. The EFJ considers these measures unfair and counterproductive. We call on European and national political authorities to protect the social status of employed and self-employed journalists.

Together with the UN, OSCE and IACHR media freedom watchdogs, the EFJ believes that “governments must be making exceptional efforts to protect the work of journalists.”

Several media companies in Europe have started to impose unilateral reductions in working hours (journalists forced to work part-time) or pay cuts (up to 7.5% reduction) on media workers. Many freelance journalists, especially those working in the sports or cultural sector, no longer get orders from the media and have lost all sources of income.

The EFJ calls on politicians and social partners, at the European and national levels, to put in place the necessary compensatory measures, while maintaining funding for social coverage.

The EFJ calls on the President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen, the President of the European Council Charles Michel and the President of the European Parliament David Sassoli to promote together a coordinated Europe-wide response to counter-productive and unjust measures taken by media companies, with the risk of demotivating journalists and depriving the public of reliable information.

“I totally agree with the Vice-President of the European Commission Věra Jourová when she says that journalists can save lives,” said EFJ General Secretary Ricardo Gutiérrez. “I therefore call on publishers and media owners to show solidarity and responsibility in safeguarding the working conditions of media workers and journalists.”