The Journalists Union of Malawi (JUMA) with support from the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) – Malawi Chapter and the Media Council of Malawi (MCM) on Friday, March 13, 2015, met with media owners and managers to discuss with them the issue of rising cost of living, general low salaries among journalists and how this is affecting the ethical behavior of some practitioners in the industry.
The meeting took place at Shire Highlands Hotel and brought together publishers and broadcasters, managing directors, human resource managers, senior editors as well as the leadership of JUMA, MISA-Malawi and MCM where they amicably discussed this key challenge and how it could be addressed.
JUMA, MISA-Malawi and MCM put up a case about general low pay and poor working conditions for journalists in Malawi – especially reporters in junior newsroom positions, and how this was compromising professionalism and denting the image of the industry.
Presenters from the three institutions cited various studies on the issue and also brought to the attention of the employers of the Basic Needs Basket survey conducted monthly by the Centre for Social Concern which in January 2015 showed that a family living in the urban areas can only live a dignified live with an income of not less than K126,000 per month.
Their position was that journalists should at least be paid above the Basic Needs Basket figure which should be the minimum salary for the most junior journalist in media houses.
On their part, the employers agreed that there was a general problem on the level of salaries among journalists and promised to cooperate with JUMA, MISA-Malawi and MCM in finding ways of addressing the issue while considering that not all media houses were commercial entities with sustainable means of income.
The employers also appealed to the three bodies to intensify enforcement of professional conduct among journalists while supporting and encouraging them to improve their industrial skills and competencies. They also asked journalists working for commercial media houses to appreciate the business nature of the employers and ensure that their work adds value to their organisations’ ability to generate income.
At the end of the meeting, a Task Force was formed comprising representatives from the three media organizations, the employers and media trainers to engage media houses in finding solutions to the problem.
It was further agreed and asked MCM to re-enforce adherence to the Media Code of Ethics among journalist and find practical ways of disciplining practitioners found guilty of breaching the rules of professional practice.
The meeting encouraged media houses to adopt working policies and practices that would motivate their employees to improve their productivity, commitment and loyalty to their employers.