A new study by the Journalists Union of Malawi (JUMA) says over 80 percent of the journalists employed in the country’s media houses work under “demeaning and exploitative” conditions.
The report says journalists in some media organizations, mostly private radio stations, earn less than (US) $66 [or 10,000 Malawi kwacha] per month but work long hours like other journalists.
“Journalists are generally mistreated,” says the study. “In some cases, such as the Malawi News Agency, some journalists have been on internship for more than ten years, and senior reporters and editors still earn less than (US)$200 (K30,000) per month.
It says some journalists work as “volunteers” for religious and community media, where they receive meager wages and often no pay for working overtime.
Other studies indicate African journalists are generally paid less than other professionals. Worldwide, there is no standard system for determining minimum salaries for reporters.
Some journalists have been on internship for more than ten years, and senior reporters and editors still earn less than (US)$200 (K30,000) per month.
The Journalists’ Union of Malawi says it will push for a minimum wage for journalists and frequent raises to meet the rising cost of living.
“Presently JUMA proposes a minimum of (US)$333 [K50, 000] to respond to the cost of living in Malawi,” says the research.
JUMA will lead a sensitization campaign of journalists and media owners relating to laws protecting workers, says Levi Zeleza Manda, the president of the union and national coordinator for the research project.
For example, he says, Malawi’s Employment Act states that as long as an employer hires someone for more than six months, that person should know in writing the job he or she is expected to do, and how much pay the work entails.