Professional development

The role of scholarship holders in the media is a continuous subject of debate in Spain. On the one hand, it is clear that young students and graduates should have access to practical experience that allows them to become familiar with the profession. However, this circumstance often degenerates into abuses: media that use scholarship holders so as not to hire professional journalists, excessive hours, poor salaries, etc.

Of the journalists surveyed by the APM (2016), 93 percent worked as scholarship holders. It is striking that almost half of them did not receive remuneration for this work and that 40 percent did not have any tutor to guide or teach them. It has also been observed that the scholarships are extended in more than half the cases.

According to the survey by Pérez-Serrano et al (2015), “the duration of internships among the media with the highest contracting rate ranges from two to four months, mostly included in the summer period.” According to this same survey, the remuneration of the internships shows very pronounced differences: from the absolute lack of remuneration up to a maximum of €474.86 a month, offered by the publicly owned EFE Agency.

According to the APM (2016), in 2015, 3,478 people obtained the degree in Journalism and 3,210 in Audiovisual Techniques. The trend is a slight and constant growth since the decrease suffered in 2006, although strangely 2015 has shown a decrease of 12 percent, since in 2014 an unusual number of students of Journalism graduated (3,951).

Between 2011 and 2015, 16,167 people graduated in Journalism in Spain. In that five-year period, and despite the economic crisis, the downward trend of the previous ten years was broken. This peculiar situation explains why, according to the APM study (2016), 74.6 percent of journalists surveyed consider that the number of graduates who finish degrees related to journalism per year “is excessive, there are too many graduates.”

In 2016, 73 percent of the journalists surveyed in the APM report (2016) were hired by some company and 27 percent are self-employed. Conventional television concentrated the largest number of journalists hired, followed by the daily printed press. It should be noted, however, that the 2016 WPA report was based on a sample of 1,833 members of press associations, meaning that the data offer a biased image in favour of the journalists hired. Therefore, it is believed that with a more open sample the percentage of self-employed would be higher.

It is striking that being self-employed is not something initially desired or sought by journalists: three-quarters of self-employed journalists became freelance forced by the circumstances compared to 26 percent who chose to do so freely. Although there are more (47 percent) who work for several companies, it is especially noteworthy that 35.6 percent work for a single company or are integrated in its structure, which is known as “false freelance,” that is, someone who actually works in a company every day but pays their own Social Security.