They want better respect for labor law and better consideration, but faced with the passion for the profession, it is difficult to find a balance. Young journalist graduates would be forced to accept precarious working conditions under the pretext that they correspond to the reality of the profession.
Today, graduation from one of the 14 journalism schools recognized by the profession is still a fine “calling card”, a “label” or a guarantee of “quality” for students like recruiters. Certainly, and yet this does not prevent the scriptures about using and sometimes abusing young journalists.
Worked as a journalist, an uncertain profession
“Uncertainty”, is the first word that comes to mind for students and graduates interviewed by Pluricité in 2022 as part of a study on the professional integration of young journalists. Uncertain (69%), far ahead social benefit (51%) or field investigation (26%), which on their part could be cited as what encourages students to pursue this journalism profession. As if reality didn’t really match their ambitions.
Three out of five candidates still say it: integration into the labor market is “easy”. But on closer inspection, the background appears less rosy: 35% are on fixed-term contracts, 28% freelance (freelance journalist status), and only a quarter of the candidates find themselves in CDI.
Regarding the salary, it can be very variable and even border on obscenity after a bac+5 in your pocket: if 36% earn between 1,500 and 2,000 euros net per month, 42% earn less than 1,500 euros.
Journalists trained in the rigors of the profession
“The job as a journalist remains a passion, because with a bac+5 and the background we have, we could demand much higher remuneration… But we do it because we fundamentally believe in our subject and its interest to society”, explains one respondent. This “but” is quite revealing. According to Pluricité, schools are preparing for the job to be tough there is a kind of resilience among young graduates which makes them relativize”.
They are thus better able to accept difficult working conditions, despite their ideals and, above all, despite labor law. “We are formatted for that: we are told that there is such a competition that we must never say no, that it is normal for the first three years to work every Sunday and until
Despite this observation, only 20% of respondents believe that they have deteriorated working conditions because they often start from the situation of their colleagues, which is considered to be more problematic. “I don’t feel bad when I see the other journalists, but in itself, I barely make minimum wage and I chain the freelancers“, admits one of them.
A generational shock with the editors that can change everything?
For young journalists, it is therefore not the place of investigation in the position, the type of contract offered, the geographical location of the position or the remuneration that matters. On the contrary, the editorial line (36%) and the correspondence between the area of specialization and the position offered (33%) is more looked at by candidates to integrate a writing. Criteria related to their values and what they learned during their studies, nothing surprising.
Except that other criteria have emerged in recent years causing a “generational shock” in the editorial staff. The balance between private life and working life is a choice criterion (36%), followed by the working environment (33%). “Journalist’s working hours and availability during free time (respect for contractual hours, right to interrupt, etc.) are a notable point of friction between journalists of different generations”, notes the study.
In addition to non-compliance with labor law, there is the lack of funds to do their work, the lack of supervision, the constant pressure to “do more in less time” and the lack of consideration. So much difficulties which are no longer acceptable for future journalists, less and less ready to make concessions. It is still necessary that the editors also move in the right direction. On good terms!