The “million dollar” question: Number of (un)employed journalists in Croatia?
Translation: Fairpress
In the last few years in Croatia there has been talk of issuing a media strategy. It has still not been issued and with the arrival of the new Minister of culture, it has once again been put on the agenda. Apparently, the strategy is planned on being dealt with more seriously in the upcoming months (years). However, if the goal is to issue a good media strategy, one of quality, that responds to the real opportunities and needs of the media market, first of all we have to know what we are starting from. The fact is that we don’t know a lot. Therefore, Fairpress is publishing a series of articles about the real state in the Croatian media sector. The first topic is related to the analysis of records of the number of (un)employed journalists.

Namely, according to the data of the Croatian Employment Service (HZZ), in 2015 a total of sixty-two (62) journalists were employed on a permanent basis (entering in a working relationship with a permanent employment contract), and 235 of them were employed based on other business activities, which do not imply a permanent employment contract (temporary employment contract).  In this matter, the majority of them aren’t employed in their profession – out of a total of 297 newly employed journalists in 2015, only 79 of them, i.e. 27 percent, got a job in the media industry. Finally, the total number of employed journalists at the end of 2015, according to the data of the Croatian Employment Service, reached the number of 610; the number of those who are still waiting for their chance of employment, in and out of the journalistic profession, was 662.

However, the Croatian Chamber of Economy (HGK) doesn’t agree with the data recorded by the Croatian Employment Service. The data of the Chamber is much more optimistic and according to it, regarding solely electronic media, there are 201 permanently employed journalists.

On Fairpress’s query about the methodological explanation of how the Croatian Employment Service keeps records regarding the occupation of journalist, we received an answer from information officer, Maja Bošnjak:

The occupations of unemployed persons are defined according to the acquired education, work experience, i.e. acquired general and professional competences. In agreement with the employment counsellor, the unemployed person defines the occupations in which he/she will look for a job in, i.e. occupations he/she would work in. Usually, the unemployed person has more than one occupation stated, however one of them is a priority and the unemployed person decides on it. Please note that the priority occupation is connected to the acquired education (title), work experience (jobs the person has worked in), i.e. the acquired general and professional competences.

We contacted the Croatian Chamber of Economy with a similar query, asking them to explain to us the difference between a few categories by which they keep record of employees in electronic media. Namely, the Chamber keeps record of the average number of employees in the editorial staff, the number of permanently employed journalists and the total number of journalists. We wanted to know what each of the stated categories means, considering the numbers don’t match: for example, in the case of Radio Bljesak, it is stated that the average number of employees in the editorial staffs and the number of permanently employed journalists is four (4), while two is the number stated for the total number of journalists. Professional associate of the Chamber,

Marko Gjeldum, responded to our query:

The publisher isn’t obligated to fill in the data about the number of journalists in the editorial staff according to the obligations prescribed by law. HGK is only responsible for the accuracy of the transcript, not for the content of the form which is filled out by every publisher individually for every publication. The data on the number of journalists obtained from the records isn’t official data (the official data on the number of employees in a certain sector can be obtained from the Croatian Bureau of Statistics), they are more of an informative nature.

However, the Croatian Bureau of Statistics keeps record of the total number of employed persons, but only by sector of work. Specifically, in our case the relevant data is the one of the number of persons employed in the “information and communication” sector. That sector had a total of 33.028 employees in 2015. It’s important to note that this category doesn’t only include journalists, but includes all people employed in legal persons of the registered sector “information and communication”.

Speaking of sectors, it should be mentioned that according to the data of the Croatian Bureau of Statistics, the average net salary in the “information and communication” sector in 2015 was a little bit over 8.000 HRK and is considerably higher than the average net salary in Croatia which amounted to around 5.700 HRK in 2015.

However, let’s go back to the problem of the chaotic record of employed and unemployed journalists in Croatia. We contacted the Trade Union of Croatian Journalists for a comment; they confirmed that the said record actually doesn’t even exist.

The record of the number of employed journalists is kept by media employers. The Trade Union of Croatian Journalists keeps record of the number of its members. The difference in the data between HZZ and HGK is the result of the fact that HZZ keeps records according to the occupation, so for example, they record journalists who graduated law, economics and other things, under that specific occupation. You can get the overall number of employed journalists in the Republic of Croatia in 2015 by contacting the media employers and asking them for that information. They are the only ones who know the exact number, was the response from the Trade Union of Croatian Journalists.

However, can we rely on the accuracy of the data kept by media employers? Judging by the above-mentioned example from the Croatian Chamber of Economy – it’s obvious that we can’t. If we want to issue informed and fact based media politics, a more serious and systematic approach is needed in recording this data. After all, it’s almost unbelievable that this data isn’t available to the public, nor the country, if we bear in mind the technological possibilities that the country, i.e. society has at its disposal today.
Note: The data used in this article was collected for measuring the Media Clientelism Index within the regional project Civic Response to Clientelism in Media (MEDIA CIRCLE), financed by the Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance of the European Union (IPA) Civil Society Facility (CSF) and co-financed by the Government of the Republic of Croatia Office for Cooperation with NGOs.

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