First the good news: most journalists in Hong Kong had a raise this year.
But here comes the bad news: almost one third of them would leave the industry within two years.
The above two are the major findings in the survey conducted by Hong Kong Journalists’ Association in April 2008.
Among the 376 participants, 52.6% had an increase of between 1% and 6%, compared with last year. About 22.6% received more than 6% pay hike, but 22.9% of participants did not receive any increase. Some even had salaries reduced by a slight 1.9%.
Despite a general improvement in working condition, 32.2% of the participants indicated they would leave the industry within two years while 29.7% expected to change to other professions in 3 to 6 years.
The factors for leaving the industry are low wages (50.3%), high work pressure (31.6%), and negative impact on family life (30.7%).
Comparing 5 years ago, the majority of journalists believed that the workload of frontline reporters and management had increased (85.1% and 83.1% respectively). But working conditions (i.e. salary, vacation, welfare etc) are thought to have worsened in the view of 34.2% while 32.3% thought there had been improvement. However, 33.5% thought there was not much difference.
Comparing 10 years ago, those with 10 years’ journalistic experience (33.8% of overall participant) indicated that the working conditions in general had become worse (73.0%). The primary causes were attributed to manpower shortage, with the less experienced reporters at lower salaries (76.1%), cost controls necessitating manpower reduction (68.1%) and loss of bargaining power on the part of journalists (60.9%). The journalists are concerned that working conditions may even fluctuate more causing standards to drop (59.2%), that journalists leave the industry more frequently (45.8%), and the professional standards drops (40.1%).
The results also showed that 41.4% of participants worked 10 hours every day while 31.1% worked for 11 hours or more. Of these participants 36.5% had a monthly income of $15,000 or below, 29.0% earned $15,001 to $25,000 while 34.4% earned more than $25,000. The median annual leave is 12 days.
Hong Kong Journalists’ Association conducted the above survey in April, 2008. Among the 1,109 questionnaires being sent to reporters and editors of local news organizations, 376 surveys were completed with a response rate was 33.9%.
HKJA had concerns on the high ratio of reporters planning to leave the industry. In the coming year, we would organize more activities and seminar to address this issue. We also sent a letter to the editor of the local media outlets highlighting the industry-wide issue while urging them to take action to improve the working condition.
We also welcome any suggestions that could improve the outlook of working journalists and raise our competitiveness of the local news industry.