To get a broader picture of the work conditions of journalists in Armenia and to write a story on the topic, Media.am conducted a survey in the summer of 2017.
The survey Journalists’ Labor Rights: Salaries, Working Hours, and Vacation was anonymous. We also didn’t ask for the names of the media outlets where our colleagues work, as the purpose was not to gather information about the conditions at a specific media outlet, but to reveal issues in the sector overall.
Over the course of four days, 73 journalists (53 women and 20 men) participated in the survey. In this article we analyze the survey findings, which perhaps don’t transfer to or reflect the situation in all media outlets, but convey important information about the sector and work conditions in general.
According to the survey results, more than half of the journalists believe their labor rights are violated in various ways, but they don’t speak up because they either have no hope that anything will change or don’t see the alternative of moving to another job. Many don’t complain, explaining that these are the rules of the media sector and it’s the same situation in all media outlets.
Journalists work mainly six days a week, 8–10 hours a day, often don’t receive vacation time off as prescribed by law, and mainly don’t get paid for overtime work. Some don’t have work contracts and are not registered employees.
It’s interesting that the survey results essentially depend on the journalist’s gender. Women and men perceive their professional career and the expectations that come from that differently.
The survey shows that male journalists work more in daily hours than female journalists. At the same time, in the context of comparison between working women and men, female journalists work more (12–16 hours and more) than many working men (12 hours).
Men more often get a high salary, while women (more than men) feel they are appreciated. But if male journalists argue they are valued because of their high salaries or the prospect of them, then for female journalists remuneration is not an important factor in feeling appreciated. They feel appreciated from good treatment by the management, the opportunity to cover important topics, and regardless of whether their labor rights are violated or not.
About the survey participants
The majority of the polled journalists (82.2%) work full-time, while 17.8% are freelancers. Moreover, of the male journalists, only one is a freelancer, while of the female journalists, 12 are freelancers.
Of the respondents, 46.6% work at news websites, 24.7% in television, 12.3% in newspapers, 4.1% in radio, and 12.3% at several media outlets simultaneously.
The journalists’ work experience was also different. Of the respondents, 35.6% have work experience of up to 5 years; 32.9% have 5–10 years; and 31.5% have more than10 years of experience.
Working days and hours
The majority of the polled journalists (43.8%) work six days a week; 31.5% work five days a week; 16.4% work seven days a week; and 8.2% have an irregular schedule.
Of the respondents, 38.4% work 8 hours; 32.9% work 10 hours; 9.6% work 12 hours; 12.3% work less than 8 hours. By the way, of the nine journalists who said they work less than 8 hours, seven are freelancers.
The survey results show that the journalists who work more days per week also work longer hours. For example, of the 23 journalists who work five days a week, only one works 12 hours; the majority work 8 hours or less. Meanwhile, half of the 12 journalists who work seven days a week work 12–16 hours or more a day, with only three working 8 hours a day.
Of the polled men, 15% work 8 hours; 60% work 10 hours; 15% work 12 hours; and 10% more less than 8 hours.
Of the polled women, 39.8% work 8 hours; 20.7% work 10 hours; 16.9% work 12–16 hours and more; and 22.6% are freelancers.
Though men on average work longer hours than women, the work hours of women who work more are more (12–16 hours and more) than of men who work more (12 hours).
On the other hand, freelancer women make up a larger percentage than freelancer men.
According to Article 139 of the Labor Code of the Republic of Armenia (RA):
1. Working time duration may not exceed 40 hours per week.
2. A daily period of work must not exceed 8 working hours, except for the cases stated by law, other normative legal acts and the collective contract.
3. Maximum work duration, including:
a) overtime in cases envisaged by Article 145 of this Labour Code at the request of the employer, must not exceed 48 hours per week.
b) The overtime work may not exceed 12 hours daily including the breaks for rest and lunches with the consent of the parties.
5. The duration (including breaks for rest and lunches) of the daily working time of employee having two or more employment contracts with the same employer or with different employers may not exceed 12 hours per day.
Of the respondents, 32.9% receive a monthly salary of 100,000–150,000 AMD; 26% receive up to 100,000 AMD; 15.5% receive 150,000–200,000 AMD; 12.3% receive 200,000–250,000 AMD; 5.5% receive 250,000–300,000 AMD; 5.5% receive more than 400,000 AMD; and 2.7% receive 300,000–400,000 AMD.
Of the 20 polled male journalists, three receive a salary greater than 400,000 AMD; meanwhile, only one of the 53 female journalists get a salary greater than 400,000 AMD. Fifteen female and four male journalists get a salary under 100,000 AMD.
Do you feel appreciated at work?
Of the polled male journalists, 60% feel appreciated at work (while 40% do not). Men mainly evidenced feeling appreciated by (having) a normal salary, a raise, or with the prospect of one. Not feeling appreciated likewise has a monetary basis: male journalists don’t feel appreciated because of low pay and/or the lack of bonus pay.
Of the polled women, 62% feel appreciated, while 38% do not. In the case of women who feel appreciated, the amount of salary does not matter: female journalists feel equally appreciated whether their monthly salary is less than 100,000 AMD or more than 400,000 AMD.
Polled women feel appreciated when
- management treats them well
- their colleagues are pleased to accept them
- their opinion is taken into account
- they’re allowed to cover responsible topics
- they’re allowed to be absent from work
- they’re not forced to write commissioned pieces
Of the female journalists who don’t feel appreciated, only one part don’t feel appreciated because of inadequate remuneration for work; the others’ argument was the management finding fault with their work and not placing importance on the role of the journalist.
Violation of rights
More than half of the journalists (56.2%) believe their rights are violated at work (while 43.8% do not).
It’s interesting that though among male journalists, feeling appreciated and considering their labor rights violated or not violated are interconnected, there’s no such correlation for female journalists. Though some female journalists believe their rights are violated at work, nevertheless, they feel appreciated at work.
On the other hand, some journalists who believe their labor rights are not violated, responding to other questions in the survey, noted obvious Labor Code violations (for example, working more than 12 hours a day, getting 10–14 days of vacation a year), from which it can be assumed that some journalists are not well aware of their rights.
As labor rights violations, the journalists mainly noted the following:
- “They don’t record it and you’re forced to put up with it”
- “I work more and longer than is stipulated in my contract”
- “They don’t pay for overtime work”
- “I work also on Saturdays and Sundays”
- “There is too little vacation”
- “They don’t give paid vacation”
- “They pay salaries at their own discretion, they delay the timelines [for pay day]”
- “Even during vacation, they ‘work’ you”
- “I work under the table, but they withhold social security deductions from my pay”
According to Article 159 of the RA Labor Code: “Duration of the minimum annual vacation shall be 28 days. Annual vacation shall not be shortened for employees working part‐time.” In addition, journalists are provided with additional annual vacation time, according to Article 161 of the Labor Code, which stipulates that additional vacation time is granted
1) to employees working in dangerous and harmful conditions
2) for employees with unregulated schedules
3) for employees doing work of special nature
According to a Government of the Republic of Armenia 2005 decision, journalists are included in the list of separate category employees entitled to additional annual leave. Apart from the 28 days of annual vacation, journalists get an additional four days of vacation.
According to Article 146 of the RA Labor Code:
“1. Overtime work at the request of the employer shall not exceed 4 hours during two successive days and 120 hours per year.
With the consent of the parties, the duration of the overtime work, along with normal working time, cannot exceed 12 hours a day during two consecutive days (including rest and lunch breaks).
2. The employer must record a precise accounting of overtime work in working time logs.”
Speaking up on violation of rights
Though the majority of respondents believe their labor rights are violated, 61.6% have never spoken up about it.
On not speaking up about violation of rights, the majority of journalists gave the following explanations:
- “In the case of widespread violations, there’s no point in raising the issue; these are the rules of the media sector in general”
- “It will not provide any results. It’s a private sector: you don’t like it, leave; someone else who agrees to the conditions will always be found to replace you”
- “I thought perhaps I won’t find another job with the same salary”
- “There was no opportunity [to speaak up]”
- “What’s the point? You don’t like it, don’t work…”
- “I usually speak up about issues that I’m concerned about; it’s just that in many instances in my workplace there are already formed traditions, which are hard to break”
- “Attempts to speak up in the past ended badly: I was fired from work or at the least it resulted in tension toward me and unfavorable treatment”