Davis Landorfs, Latvia
Young journalists are convinced of future success, but often have to choose the road less travelled to find employment in a dense media job market.
“There are some doors that open, but then there are a lot that just don’t,” said Susanne Gottlieb, a young video journalist from Austria. She added that the experience of looking for a job can be frustrating and explained that employers rarely seem to be willing to invest their resources in young media professionals.
At the beginning of 2016, more than 4.5 million people were unemployed across the EU, and although the numbers have slightly decreased during the last few years, long-term youth unemployment is still at record highs. There are no available numbers on unemployment among young media professionals in the EU, but in some countries the the figure is as high as 50% among young journalists.
“Nowadays you can hardly find an entry-level job, and that’s the main problem,” Susanne added. “For a young journalist, it definitely affects your self value, and it’s not a healthy situation to be in.”
Oldschoolers going digital
Finding a job can be difficult for aspiring journalists, said Anna Ūdre, 20, a journalism student from Latvia. During the last two years she has participated in a number of journalism events and says that, with the media landscape changing rapidly, a lot of professionals find one of the biggest challenges is simply finding a job in the first place.
“I believe it is directly connected to the role of technology,” she explains. “There is a shift from traditional media, like print and TV, towards new digital platforms. There are less working hands needed and the field itself has changed a lot, I think.”
Ūdre said that she sees strength in dedication and passion and is not particularly worried about the perspectives of her future employment, but at the same time admits she puts focus on learning new skills.
“I am an old school kind of girl – I currently write for a newspaper and a magazine, and in this I can work the way journalists used to 10 or 15 years ago, which I like a lot. At the same time, I understand that if I want to be competitive, I need to know how to work with data, and I need digital skills. Obviously it will make me more attractive to potential employers in the future.”
Learning to succeed later
New technology might be reducing media jobs, but at the same time it can provide opportunity, claims Karim Mustaghni, an entrepreneur and an investor. He says that he has noticed a number of upcoming media start-ups in places like Berlin, and is convinced that this can be a way for young journalists to create employment for themselves.
“I think that digital media will become more powerful. I see that people are less interested in mainstream media and the thoughts of individual opinion leaders.”
“You can always try to work for the established [companies], but I believe it will only become more and more important to be proactive and build something like a niche company yourself,” he adds.
But Susanne Gottlieb says she thinks that this can only be a partial solution to a wider issue. “A lot of people are starting their own little thing, and I think that this is really good. But I think it can also be a bit scary for someone who has done one or two internships. Will they have the customer base and the reputation to succeed? And should they start their own company if they want to learn something or should they try to learn something first to validate their future start-up? I mean, it can definitely be a way to go, but I’m not sure everybody is the person for that.”
Susanne says that in the end most young journalists she knows have found employment, but there is no one-size-fits-all approach for landing a job. “Pretty much everyone finds something. But maybe that’s not always in the area they studied. Some people have gone abroad to find a job.”
“In a way, that’s the beauty of it,” she adds. “You have to run in as many doors as you can and at some point it will happen.”