News / 23.03.2010

Thirty-year old journalists go without jobs

Even though in 2009 media houses here laid off retiring journalists, still topping the statistics of unemployed journalists are those between 30-34 years old.

“They have been in temporary working contracts which have ended and they have not yet found anything permanent”, says Chief Editor of Keskisuomalainen, Pekka Mervola.

“Last year costs-cutting measures by the media houses also targeted thirty-year olds as temporary positions were reduced”, says Editor-in-Chief of largest circulating daily Helsingin Sanomat, Janne Virkkunen.

Those who have lost their jobs do not have anything on offer except occasional assignments. Helsingin Sanomat has recruited just two journalists since December. Keskisuomalainen plans to recruit three permanent journalists while two places are open in Maaseudun Tulevaisuus.

A thirty-year old graphic designer says he hasn’t heard of work contracts lasting more than three months. His temporary contract ended in the autumn and now he is hanging on with occasional calls to work when needed. “I have at least two days a week of work. In addition I receive some negotiated unemployment benefits. If I had been living alone, I would not have managed whatsoever”.

The situation of the unemployed young journalists is akin to immigrant journalists here who rely entirely on freelance work in order to survive. Finnish media would not hire immigrant journalists claiming that their Finnish language proficiency is insufficient. But unable to make a living on freelance work, many immigrant journalists are compelled to rely on other non-core journalism activities such as translation and part time teaching to supplement their income.

The graphic designer is prepared to take any job within his field. “But I have already thought of changing a profession. It is a sterile situation”, he laments.

However, there are many new jobseekers into the sector.

“It is no doubt strange to read the job vacancies section of Helsingin Sanomat when there are no open vacancies that I could apply, but in the next pages advertising for training, every fourth page is advertising for study places in the media field”, says a thirty-year old photo journalist.

It has been noticed in the media houses that thirty-year old journalists are also seeking summer jobs. Even though chief editors have given the assurance that age is not significant in the recruitment, at least summer jobs are given to young people below thirty.

“Very often our summer time journalists are a little younger, either still studying or have just completed their studies”, says Lauri Kontro chief editor of Maaseudun Tulevaaisuus.

If the job situation does not improve it could lead to unemployed thirty-year old journalists remaining permanently underemployed or leaving the field altogether.

“From the perspective of the professional community I consider it a big problem if a certain age group such as these 30-35-year olds leave the sector”, say Virkkunen.

“It is positive in that respect that the media sector has the drawing power and attracts many talented young people. But it is unfortunate if the sector is unable to fulfill all of its expectations, says, Lauri Kontro of Maaseudun Tulevaisuus.

Translation and editing by Linus Atarah

Orginal story by Katri Porttinen

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