Wednesday 9 December 2009

Go Dutch and support young journalists

I can understand newspapers fearing that direct Government subsidies would compromise their editorial independence, but the Dutch have come up with a way to help the press in the current economic downturn by financing jobs for young journalists.
The editorsweblog reports that the Dutch government has agreed to finance two-year contracts for 60 young journalists across 30 titles in the country's press.
The plan will cost €4m, according to Labour Party minister Ronald Plasterk, who created the plan. The initiative arose because Plasterk wants to "renew an ageing industry" with a new generation of journalists and because in a slump young journalists are losing their jobs based on the "last in, first out" policy.
The plan was approved by Parliament thanks to support from the social-democrat Labour Party and the centre-right Christian Democratic Appeal party. The editorsweblog says the parties were reluctant to support the plan, because they feared it would lead to job cuts for older journalists. They only signed on after the heads of the news organisations involved assured them this wouldn't be the case.
In the UK well over 1,000 editorial jobs have been lost in the regional press alone since July last year. There are concerns that the "public service" reporting of courts and councils is suffering a major decline. Meanwhile, journalism courses are continuing to produce able graduates into the worst jobs market for years.
Wouldn't it make sense to subsidise posts for young journalists here as long as there are safeguards that it will not lead to job cutting by unscrupulous employers?
Story tip via


Laura Oliver said...

I think this is an interesting scheme to watch - especially the promises about safeguarding older journalists' jobs.

I remember you raising a point at a Frontline debate about looking for ways to sustain training and entry-level jobs for new journalists. As you suggest, with the proper regs in place, such initiatives could help support the future of journalism rather than one particular type of outlet.

Jon Slattery said...

Thanks for your comment Laura.

I think this is well worth watching. The real casualty of the recession in newspapers has been journalists' jobs rather than titles.

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