The professional practice of journalism has been limited by precarious salaries, unsatisfactory working conditions and non-formal links in work contracts. Various studies have shown a lack of clear and competitive salary policies that help to dignify the profession, an instability in contracts, a high turnover that occurs in the newsrooms and an increasing practice of hiring freelance journalists, which hamper the labour benefits. Also, journalists complain about the long working hours without paid overtime and the lack of institutional resources to do their job. This situation is more dramatic in small cities and rural areas, where local media subsist very precariously.
A highly questioned practice has been to pay the salary of the journalists assigning advertising spots they must sell. In the majority of small municipalities, due to a very limited print market, the main source of financing is the official advertising of local or regional governments such as the municipal town hall and state town hall. In some cases, there are mining or agricultural organisations that have an important role in the area and they also become sponsors of news media outlets in the region. However, advertising becomes an important limitation for the free exercise of journalism as any complaint or critical position against any of these institutions that pay the ads brings as a consequence that the such as advertisements are withdrawn. In a recent nationwide study with journalists, 48 percent stated that their medium stopped publishing some type of information in order to avoid losing the advertising.
A recent study carried out by the FLIP found that in rural areas, 40 percent of journalists do not have formal links with the media companies for which they work. For instance, in Putumayo, the department located in the south-west of Colombia, 3 out of 27 news media outlet surveyed did not offer formal contracts. On the other hand in 17 out of 37 news media outlets, journalists must sell advertisements in order to get their salary. In Casanare, located in the central eastern region of Colombia, just 4 out of 31 news media outlet surveyed offer regular contracts with social security and health coverage.
As the FLIP and the Colombian Federation of Journalists (FECOLPER), have warned "journalists in the country go through situations of precariousness in the area of the right to work and this has a notable impact on the right to freedom of expression in the face of freedom of expression.”