On the occasion of World Day for Decent Work, October 7, the National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ) urgently highlights the dire working conditions and continual exploitation plaguing journalists. Such conditions compromise the very foundation of quality journalism, impede the free dissemination of information, facilitate media rights suppression, and threaten the very core of journalism which serves the public's interest.
The media landscape in Somalia reveals a concerning picture. An alarming 78% of the workforce in the media sector consists of young professionals, a majority of whom are in broadcast media. These young journalists often work extensive hours without proper compensation. While some of them might possess contracts that denote part-time employment, in practice, they often put in full-time hours and receive meagre pay or, in many cases, no pay at all.
It is distressingly common for media houses to issue only temporary contracts. Permanent contracts are rare, leaving many professionals, even those with a decade's experience in one news media organization, in a perpetual state of job insecurity and uncertainty. This is frequently rationalised by citing constrained financial resources.
A pervasive culture of silence dominates the Somali media scene when it comes to discussing wages. Media houses implement strict confidentiality directives, preventing open discourse about salaries. This culture, combined with the associated shame of revealing inadequate pay, creates an opaque environment that hampers open dialogue on fair compensation.
Such conditions force young journalists into financial corners, sometimes pushing them into unethical journalistic practices. They often feel compelled to undertake unpaid assignments that last from 6 to 12 months in hopes of gaining industry recognition. Tragically, these vibrant young talents are forced to settle for low wages and unconducive work conditions, becoming ensnared in an exploitative cycle.
Aligned with the global position of the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ)—which NUSOJ is affiliated with—the union supports the global call this World Day for Decent Work. This call emphasises stronger protection for young journalists, recognizing them as the undeniable future of journalism.
The NUSOJ Secretary-General Omar Faruk Osman declares, “News media organisations must ensure sustainable and respectable work conditions for all journalists, especially the youngsters. Their commitment and effort should be reciprocated with fair pay and not exploitation.” He further states, “Investing in young journalists transcends the realm of media—it's a commitment to building a society where journalism flourishes and serves the greater good.”
“Journalists, while ordinary citizens, bear extraordinary responsibilities. They deserve decent working conditions to dutifully serve as the eyes, ears, and voice of the Somali people” Osman stressed.
NUSOJ advocates for a tailored socio-economic program to equip young journalists with vital skills and resources, promoting professional growth and innovation. Such a program not only stands to benefit journalists on an individual level but promises to stimulate economic growth within the media sector, setting a brighter trajectory for upcoming media professionals.
NUSOJ has developed a forthcoming program that is specifically tailored to address the issues and meet the needs of young journalists. The primary objective of this program is to empower and enhance the journalistic skills of these aspiring youthful individuals in the media industry. It will provide them with a platform to voice their challenges, as well as seek effective solutions. By nurturing a new generation of young and innovative media professionals, this initiative strives to make a positive impact and pave the way for a promising future in the field of journalism.
It is in this context that NUSOJ passionately calls for an immediate cessation of exploitation targeting young journalists, and appeals for substantive investments in journalism programs and robust backing to boost the capabilities of young journalists, setting the stage for a progressive media future in Somalia.