Finding a Job in Turkey as a Young Journalist
Author: Cansu Timur
In Turkey, young journalists are struggling to find a job after finishing their bachelor degree. After 4 years of university education, young journalists face unhappiness and unemployment. Although there are already more than 70 universities that provide communication education, new ones continue to be opened. The huge number of communication experts is much more than the country needs. Additionally, it is difficult for young journalists to find a better job in better media companies when we consider low wages, pressure from superiors, and the issues with freedom of expression in Turkey.
According to the data shared by the Human Resources Office of the Presidency of the Republic of Turkey in 2019, 34 percent of communication faculty graduates were able to find a job within the first 6 months after their graduation. While the rate of those who have never worked after graduation is 18,25, those who find a job between 6 to 12 months after graduating is 16,67. On the other hand, those graduates who could find a job do not work within the framework of their licenses. Moreover, 60 percent of those who started working said that they were receiving minimum wages. Even though low wages have a negative impact on journalists, it is impossible to explain this with the existing data.
Since the data we obtained from the Human Resources Office includes other communication graduates in fields of public relations, cinema, and design, it is hard to find data on journalism graduates specifically. Under these circumstances, young journalists are looking for an independent way to do what they studied for. Even though it is not possible to be completely away from the governments’ oppression of free speech, young journalists say that they are feeling responsible for creating free areas. The aim of the young journalists I spoke with is to provide true information to the public in the country.
Being unemployed or accepting to work under poor conditions
Merve Filiz Yavuz is a news director of Gazete Rüzgarlı. Yavuz and her friends from Ankara University Faculty of Communication founded Gazete Rüzgarlı last year. Yavuz explains in what state freedom of expression of journalists is in Turkey and why they started their own business.
Yavuz says that there are two options for a young journalist: being unemployed or accepting to work under poor conditions.
“Journalists try to fight against long working hours, late pays, mobbing, and all kind of censorship. Journalists’ personal rights should be legally guaranteed but they are working for minimum amounts of money especially within the opponent media” she adds.
Yavuz states that the government sees the media as a means of suppression, consolidation, and concealment. She added that when the government failed to engage in those processes, they started investigating news and arresting journalists.
“When the quality conditions of journalists are destroyed, the right of citizens to receive quality news is also usurped. When the government silences journalists, they also silence the public”, says Yavuz.
When the employment problem of young journalists is added to these conditions, Yavuz says that opening new fields is compulsory for the public to get accurate information.
Yavuz explains Gazete Rüzgarlı with the following words:
“We witnessed the pressures against journalism but we did not want to consent to these pressures. We founded Gazete Rüzgarlı because we want to freely raise our voices. We reject the low conditions imposed by big media companies. We continue to say ‘We are here, too’ in our conditions that we shape. We will keep up the transfer of knowledge and experience in our newspaper with the journalism solidarity”
The pressure from superiors disappears when you work individually
Cengiz Mert Aksekili produces media podcasts as an independent journalist. Aksekili said that the media companies where he worked as an intern previously avoided employing new people.
Aksekili lists the reasons why young journalists could not find a job:
“Media companies have recently made mass layoffs. After dismissals, one reporter started working for two or three areas at the same time. Moreover, companies’ first choice is a journalist who is highly experienced. It should not be forgotten that the number of universities providing communication education is over 70 and is increasing every day”
In this sense, Aksekili adds how he felt he needed to leave his comfort zone. With the Covid-19 pandemic, Aksekili’s follow-up process gained speed.
“I had to start from the scratches. ‘You are the boss' sounds nice in the beginning, but you have all the responsibilities which is not easy’’ he says.
“The pressure from superiors that comes from economic reasons disappears when you work individually and that is the best part of this job. Instead of working overtime for your boss, you are trying to grow your own business”
According to Aksekili, working as an independent journalist feels better. Despite the fact that Turkey’s political atmosphere decreases productivity, the interventions of the media company, his superior, and editor are no more present in his life.
“Instant expressions gain importance in audio and visual productions on the Internet and they do not pass the filter of censorship”, Aksekili concludes.