Some time ago the International Journalism Network (IJNet) published the survey by website Career Cast of the best and worst jobs in 2012. For the first time, newspaper reporter and broadcaster have made a list of the worst jobs in theUS(http://ijnet.org/blog/newspaper-reporter-broadcaster-make-worst-jobs-list). The given result, following the survey of 200 jobs, was due to the factors such as job instability, stress, low income and hiring outlook; traditional occupational hazards (deadlines, competitiveness, own life at risk) paired with a gloomy market outlook.
Newspaper reporter has long been considered as one of the most low-paid jobs inGeorgia. That’s one of the main reasons experienced staff, even those who first and foremost associate journalism with public responsibility, decreasingly stay in print media. They carry other social responsibilities to the family and themselves, hence they show preference to the change of the situation to unsuitable conditions for labor and employment risks.
For a few years now a well-experienced journalist Tinatin Mosiashvili of the Georgian daily Rezonansi has been working for the National Antiviolence Network of Georgia as PR manager. The main reason she quit journalism was low salary. “Print media is in financial hardship, she says. Earlier at least State agencies used to subscribe to newspapers and magazines, since 2004 the situation has changed. Grants provided in the recent years have mainly flown to regional media; the scope of advertising is increasingly lessening, and several editions “died” in front of us. Many of them still owe journalists salaries, including me.”
Some newspapers are paying GEL 8-10 per page, says Tinatin Mosiashvili, and the journalist’s salary ranges from GEL 200 to 300. But at some institutions, journalists cannot earn more than GEL 100-150, despite daily work, and even waiting for that miserable payment for months. Only at some editions the salary tops GEL 700-800 and a bit more, very rarely though. ”That of course ensues the flow of staff. One of the most popular and favorite statements by media employers sounds as follows: “You dislike that? You are free to go,” says Mosiashvili.
A young journalist Kristina Kachkhadze, working for Kutaisi-based newspaper Akhali Gazeti believes that employment at regional media is promising. “If journalist seeks for financial profit only then it will be hard to him/her,” she says. “In regional media journalist’s payment ranges from GEL 100 to 300. Moreover, the editorial office gets the journalist involved in various projects to help their income go up. Regional print media, mainly depends on donors’ funding.”
Ia Bobokhidze, Editor, The Akhali Gazeti provides the following clarification to low salaries: “Publishers are unable to pay well due to scarce financial resources and instable income, which is due to several circumstances: insufficient sales staff, mismanagement, low circulation and limited advertising market. We are trying to tackle this problem with the help of qualified experts.”
Ia Bobokhidze speaks about Georgian Media Enhance Democracy, Informed citizenry and Accountability project being implemented by IREX since 2011 in the scope of G-MEDIA program. Through the program Akhali Gazeti has been cooperating with Ivonna group which implies development of media as business organization and support to media sustainability through consultations. The Akhali Gazeti editor hopes the experience gained through participation in the program will considerably help maintain efficient staff in the print edition.
To maintain core team is one of the main concerns of publishers. According to Maya Purtseladze, publisher and editor of the newspaper Versia nowadays a publisher is trying to create best selling product through minimal staff which requires tremendous work and energy from the production team. “Through optimal way of recruitment we managed to find the golden mean,” she said, ”The lowest salary in the Versia is GEL 200, the highest amounts to GEL 1,000.” But the lack of professional staff is one of the main issues Maya Purtseladze underlined.
“Discussions on the situation being in place at the faculties of journalism shall be launched in order to find out why higher education institutions fail to provide qualified personnel,” she says, “Moreover, the authorities should recognize newspaper business as a specific business, introduce some kind of tax and business allowances so that media could further develop. It is also essential to provide equal conditions to all of the editions, from the side of the authorities as well as international organizations, to secure honest and competition and let the society decide which and what kind of edition to maintain on the market.”
Discussing the newspaper income, Ia Antadze, Chairwoman, Civic Development Institute emphasized scarcity of advertising in print media, its distribution and sales. “Transparency International Georgia, through the study into advertising market in media, found out that this market is monopolized which curbs newspapers’ ability to further develop through income from advertising,” she says, ”as regards sales we know that the population’s purchasing power is low. A newspaper brought to the village from Tbilisi often goes around from hand to hand throughout the district. Newspapers are poor media organizations and unfortunately they are unable to provide high-quality expensive product attractive to the society.”
CDI is one of the organizations providing small grants to journalists. “Our organization has paid EUR 750 for an in-depth story. Georgian or international organizations announce contests quite often and the payment for the contest-winning articles is, as a rule, higher than normal newspaper or magazine fee,” she said, “low payment, of course results into the flow of staff but fortunately some of our colleagues keep working for the newspapers and any journalism corps in any country would be proud of their works.
Monopolized advertising market, misarranged distribution system, low purchasing power, scarcity of professional staff are the main problems Georgian print media now faces. If not the general national unemployment rate Georgians would have more reasons to name newspaper reporter as the worst job.