Petition: Secure the existence of freelancing journalists!

When the schedule becomes thinner

For all those who know the situation full-time, freelance journalists, there is already the link to the petition of the DJV in the first place. This is about the demand for financial support beyond the lump sum of the Bridging Assistance Plus.

Everyone else can read on here!

Freelance journalists: the all-rounders of the news industry are inside. They are a separate species in the list of solo self-employed entrepreneurs. Their earnings often depend closely on the number of appointments completed on the public stage. But when the deadlines in the editorial offices become thinner, the order situation of the free people also dwindles. It used to be the so-called summer hole, that supposed theme hole in the summer holidays, when politics is taking a break, which was likely to rip holes in the budget. Today, Corona is narrowing its profit by failing to close futures.

At the moment, the editors have been hearing deplorable words, “we are also sorry that there is so little to do”. In other words, at the moment, during the November lockdown, sometimes there is nothing left to do. Attempts to plug the order hole with their own thematic proposals, which in the past compensated for temporarily lost earnings in times of acidic cucumbers, does not help here in the long run. The fee system is insufficiently suitable for such work, for time-consuming, investigative journalism, for the vast majority of self-employed journalists. Okay, there are also here, the highly paid exceptions.

What are ‘free journalists’ ?

They do almost everything on their own, which is otherwise spread over many shoulders in editorial offices. That’s why they set up their office or at least a corner in the apartment with telephone, computer hardware and software, with cameras and lenses, with video and voice recording devices.

Where public transport abandons you, in rural areas – and this actually starts right at the gates of a big city like Cologne – they often need a car to meet appointments. A car already because their working hours fall beyond the normal times for permanent employees. They work on evenings, weekends, holidays, Easter, Christmas, sometimes at night when it comes to crime and accident reporting, or demonstrations, winter forest clearances, etc.

There is no paid leave for their use. They may at most dream of Christmas money or the thirteenth month’s salary, as well as of continued payment of wages in the event of (Covid-19) illness or the creation of reserves for a period after work or in times of crisis.

Free journalists are usually paid on a fee basis. Money that is usually based on the number of lines and photos printed, or on the length of the voice and film contribution at the stations, per work delivered. Of these, they also pay their contributions to health insurance, pension and long-term care insurance, but thanks to the Artists’ Social Fund at reduced rates.

Time lump sums are paid less frequently, depending on the employer. Demands on the time frame, i.e. how quickly contributions are to be delivered, are part of everyday life. The soon-to-be deadline is the rule.

Free people learn one thing very quickly: many employers from the circle of newspaper publishing and broadcasting pay fees with monthly punctuality, but gladly sparsely. The daily newspapers are still sparse. In this respect, reputable publishers employ their legal departments to draw up contracts with true finesse of fee law in order to undermine existing remuneration rules. In fact, they have been valid for freelance journalists working full-time in daily newspapers since the beginning of the millennium, when they were decided between Verdi, the DJV and the Federal Association of Digital Publishers and Newspaper Publishers.

Let us be clear: freelance journalists: women are cheap labour, their work is usually not remunerated according to the effort. Accordingly, they only get their monthly average by mass – often journalistic class – and mass is simply lacking these days.

If you think that the author of this blog is whining at a high level, take a look at the evaluation of a DJV questionnaire on the situation of the free in the Coronapandemie:

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