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Poor working conditions threaten integrity of journalism in Somalia

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On the occasion of the World Day of Decent Work, 7 October 2022, the National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ) takes the opportunity to once again draw attention to the escalating crisis of poor pay for journalists in the country.

Callous and exploitative media employers have reduced journalists to the worst paid category of professionals in Somalia with many working for no pay and without any written contracts of employment.

Somali journalists in several regions are orally hired and fired, and are not consistently paid. Some media employers have fallen into the habit of disappearing from their offices or known addresses at month’s end, just to avoid paying their media workers. This has given rise to the humiliating phenomenon known as “Work for Name” – where a journalist only works for visibility and recognition among members of the public.

“This not only perpetuates poor working conditions but promotes unethical practices, erodes media credibility and integrity and results in poor quality journalism in general. It also makes journalists susceptible to all sorts of manipulation and drives the pervasive practice of brown envelope journalism,” said NUSOJ Secretary General Omar Faruk Osman.

In addition to poor pay, women journalists face the added burdens of sexual exploitation and harassment through favouritism and amplifies threats they face regularly in and outside the newsroom because they are women and are subjected to poverty pay.

NUSOJ decries and condemns these regressive practices, which only serve to facilitate a silent epidemic of sexual and gender-based exploitation of women journalists due to low pay and precarity.

NUSOJ demands that employers own up to their responsibilities and ensure that everyone under their roof is covered by an employment contract with decent pay. Journalists are central to journalism and there will be no news media organisation / outlet without journalists.

Media employers should discharge their duty of care by ensuring they give journalists fair pay, written contracts and provide decent working conditions. Doing otherwise is short-sighted, self-defeating and can only lead to loss of public faith and respect, and eventual collapse of the media industry.