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Comunicación y sociedad

Print version ISSN 0188-252X

Comun. soc vol.17  Guadalajara  2020  Epub Aug 30, 2021 

Working and safety conditions of journalists

Working conditions of Ibero-American journalists. Temporary and geographical differences in Brazil, Mexico, Chile, Spain and Portugal

David Blanco-Herrero1

Martín Oller Alonso2

Carlos Arcila Calderón3

1 University of Salamanca, Spain.

2 Università degli Studi di Milano Statale, Italy.

3 University of Salamanca, Spain.


This article presents a longitudinal and comparative statistical analysis of the results of the first (2007-2011) and second wave (2012-2017) of Worlds of Journalism Study surveys about the sociodemographic profile and working conditions of journalists in Spain, Portugal, Chile, Mexico and Brazil. Despite the disparities between countries, in general, the role of women has been revalued, while the working conditions of all professionals working in the media are increasingly precarious, associated to a decrease in professional stability and the need to exercise multi-employment.

Keywords: Worlds of Journalism Study; working conditions; journalists profile; IberoAmerica; journalists; longitudinal and comparative study


Se presenta un análisis estadístico longitudinal y comparado de los resultados de la primera (2007-2011) y segunda oleada (2012-2017) de encuestas del Worlds of Journalism Study sobre el perfil sociodemográfico y las condiciones laborales de los periodistas en España, Portugal, Chile, México y Brasil. A pesar de las disparidades entre países, observamos que, en general, el rol de la mujer se ha revalorizado, a la vez que se han precarizado las condiciones laborales de los profesionales que trabajan en medios de comunicación, expuestos a una menor estabilidad profesional y a la necesidad de pluriemplearse.

Palabras Clave: Worlds of Journalism Study; condiciones laborales; perfiles profesionales; Iberoamérica; periodistas; estudio longitudinal y comparativo

Introduction and theoretical justification

The written press did not end in the year 2020 as Martínez Albertos (1997, pp. 23-24) had predicted. However, since the advent of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) in the sector, the journalistic profession has undoubtedly faced an ever changing and evolving context. The crisis of the traditional model of journalism has been reflected in the emergence of digital news media and new ways of doing journalism, like blogging and citizen journalism (Alburquerque, 2012). These changes have forced journalists to develop new professional profiles and competencies (López et al., 2017; Scolari, 2008) and have also impacted their working conditions, often towards greater precarization, around the world (Arnebring, 2018) and in the Ibero-America context (Figueras-Maz et al., 2012; López Hidalgo & Mellado Ruiz, 2006).

In the case of Ibero-American journalists, in addition to this new reality, they also face a complex situation motivated by the lack of job offers, the surplus of Journalism and Social Communication graduates (Oller & Chavero, 2018), low salaries (Mellado, 2012), precarious work (Figueras-Maz et al., 2012), job instability (Iglesias, 2004), media concentration and state interventionism (Oller, 2015). Moreover, journalists’ low wages and need to survive lead them to accept multiple independent jobs, sell advertising, work simultaneously in multiple media companies and live under the risk of crime, drug trafficking and pressure from power elites (Hughes, 2006).

At the same time, and according to the report presented by Reporters Without Borders in 2011, Latin America was the second most dangerous region in the world to practice journalistic, just behind the Middle East. Thus, although the region is undergoing a formal and widespread process of democratization, journalists still face limited professional autonomy, which is defined by commercial and political interests as well as cultural conventionalisms (Hughes & Lawson, 2004). In turn, there is still a high level of media concentration and collusion between media and political and economic elites, although freelance journalists are taking on a leading role in the diversification of the media sphere (Garcés & Arroyave, 2016; Guerrero & Márquez, 2014; Hellmueller et al., 2016; Novais et al., 2013; Oller, 2015).

This diversification, however, has not resulted in lower levels of precarious work, but all the opposite, as Roses (2011) has observed in the Spanish context, where freelance journalists often have low incomes. This has also been confirmed by international studies (Gollmitzer, 2014) that have found a correlation between non-standard forms of employment in journalism with higher levels of precarious work. This article addresses the working conditions of Ibero-American journalists based on these and other variables (such as years of professional experience and educational level) that are often associated with precarious work and/or low wages. Although these are two distinct problems, the literature review shows that they often occur jointly and have similar effects on journalists’ working conditions. Thus, the views of journalists on job-related factors influencing these issues will be addressed in the next pages.

These factors include the weight of gender, given that it has been observed in Ibero-American countries that, although there seems to be a reduction in the gender gap in journalism (De-Miguel et al., 2019), it is still immense (Amado, 2017; De-Miguel et al., 2017; Retegui, 2019), making women’s working conditions even more precarious and uncertain. The article also analyses journalists’ professional experience, which is strongly influenced by age and has been shown to have effects on salaries (Roses, 2011), in the same way that low levels of union membership have been correlated with low job security in the profession (Del Palacio & Olvera, 2017; Iglesias, 2004) and that higher educational levels result in greater job stability (Josephi, 2017; Reese & Cohen, 2000).

Moreover, hybridization (Mancini, 2015), the advocative character of Latin American journalistic culture (Hanusch &Hanitzsch, 2019) and the polarized ideological journalistic model of the Iberian region (Hallin & Mancini, 2004) have maintained in the journalism of this region a pulse between regional and national governments, which have high levels of influence, pressure and interest in controlling the media, and the dominant media conglomerates, which have hegemonic ambitions and long for the concentration of economic and information powers (Globo, Televisa, Prisa, etc.). This tension defines the working conditions of Ibero-American journalists, who, for the most part, carry out their professional activity as employees of the private media (Oller et al., 2017). In this scenario, the importance of contextual analysis and the possibility of confronting the various journalistic realities and their evolution in the Ibero-American subregions and countries lies in the fact that, although these countries are close at the cultural and historical levels, they are not so close at the media and journalistic levels (Oller, 2015). Thus, we should be aware of the lack of homogeneity and the hybrid character of Latin American journalistic culture caused by its colonial history and the adoption of certain Western professional practices (Hanusch & Hanitzsch, 2019). Media processes are determined, influenced and conditioned by the contextual and professional reality in which they occur (Mellado, 2009), as it has been observed in the evolution of Ibero-American journalism since the advent of online journalism, which has often been determined by factors such as the history, politics and economy of each country (Salaverría, 2016).

In the cases included in this study, we can talk about more or less consolidated political systems, although they have experienced regime changes, the most relevant being the one that occurred in Brazil, with the impeachment of Dilma Rousseff. However, these changes, in general, have not had the dimensions of the transformations that occurred in Mexico with the arrival of López Obrador, in Brazil with Bolsonaro, and even in Spain, with the first coalition government in its history, which took place after the period analyzed here (2007-2017). The large protests that took place in Chile and other countries in the region in 2019 are neither included in this period. Thus, we can talk about sociopolitical contexts with some stability -greater in the systems of Chile, Portugal and Spain than in those of Brazil and Mexico-, accompanied by two very important phenomena that deserve mention: the beginning of the Odebrecht corruption scandal, which broke out in 2016 and had a great impact throughout Latin America; and, the most relevant element, the economic crisis, which had a particularly negative impact in Spain and Portugal -which at the end of the analyzed period showed slight symptoms of improvement- and Brazil -with a delayed entry and exit from the crisis-.

This leads us to highlight the possible differences between the countries under study and especially between the two geographical subregions: Latin America and the Iberian Peninsula. These potential sub regional and national differences, which can occur in an area as broad and diverse as Ibero-America, have generated an increased interest in comparative studies of the journalistic practices and cultures in each of the Ibero-American subregions over the past decade (Oller, 2017; Oller et al., 2017; Weaver & Willnat, 2012; Hanitzsch et al., 2019). As Wright et al. (2019) have pointed out, this research trend in the Ibero-American region should not assume the existence of a “linear progress” in which Europe and the United States position themselves as the advanced regions and models, which would involve falling into the simplistic binary construction of two homogeneous categories -the West versus the rest of the world-. Along this line, the literature has indicated that any attempt to define journalists (Deuze, 2005; Hanitzsch, 2007; Oller & Meier, 2012) and journalism (Wyatt, 2007) should start by considering how to develop this definition (Löffelholz & Weaver, 2008) and then include an analysis that combines local/ regional nuances (Hanitzsch, 2019) with the global perspective of the journalistic profession (Murray & Moore, 2003), to finally establish journalists’ sociodemographic profiles and professional situation in the different countries and regions of the world (Oller, 2017).

Taking into account the previous observations, this study seeks to identify differences in the possible changes experienced in IberoAmerica between so called “developed” countries (Spain and Portugal, belonging to the Iberian Peninsula, in Europe) and “developing” countries (Brazil, Mexico and Chile, the Latin American region). It is also appropriate to delve into the changes that have been experienced not only between journalists in both regions, but also among journalists from different countries, following the line of multiple comparative studies (Gutiérrez et al., 2017). For this reason, the study has included the analysis of the two most populous countries in Ibero-America (Brazil and Mexico), which are also particularly representative for being examples of the business concentration of the sector in IberoAmerica, with Globo and Televisa as dominant conglomerates in Brazil and Mexico, respectively. For its part, Chile continues to be regarded, despite recent protests, as the model of “neoliberal progress” in Latin America, so its participation adds interest to this cross-national comparative study. The study also includes the two European countries of the region (Portugal and Spain), allowing contrasts between the two subregions of Ibero-America (Latin America and the Iberian Peninsula).

The outstanding comparative studies that have been carried out during the last quarter of the 20th century have become the grounds for this type of analysis at the international level. Some of these studies have included Ibero-American countries (Donsbach & Klett, 1993; Donsbach & Patterson, 1996; Hallin & Papathanassopoulos, 2002; Johnstone et al., 1976; Weaver, 1998; Weaver et al., 1986; Wilke, 1998), which have become an empirical and theoretical basis for this work. However, the Ibero-American region has had little impact within the significant number of cross-national comparative research on journalism (Cushion et al., 2014; Henkel et al., 2019; Örnebring, 2009). Moreover, the number of academic approaches to the evolution of the journalistic profession in Latin America from a longitudinal perspective is even smaller. This is surprising given the need to empirically analyze the changes experienced by Ibero-American journalists in their socio-demographic profiles and daily working conditions, including precarious work and changes in the gender gap.

This article aims to fill this knowledge gap by conducting a comparative analysis between subregions, between Ibero-American countries and between periods of time. The objective is to establish the extent to what the journalistic profession in Ibero-America has changed from 2007 to 2017, a ten-year period in which the paradigm shift in the sector was confirmed and in which a powerful economic crisis hit several Ibero-American countries very hard.

Based on the previous objectives, the study seeks to answer the following research questions:

  • RQ1: Have the sociodemographic profiles and working conditions of Ibero-American journalists changed between 2007 and 2017?

  • RQ2: Has the relationship between journalists’ gender and working conditions changed between 2007 and 2017 in Ibero-America?

  • RQ3: Are there any differences in the way the Ibero-American countries studied have experienced these changes?


Sample and procedure

With regards to the research design, this is a longitudinal trend analysis based on two international surveys applied to journalists from five Ibero-American countries (Mexico, Chile, Brazil, Spain and Portugal). Journalists were interviewed as part of the Worlds of Journalism Study (WJS)4, the most ambitious global project on journalism and journalists (Hanusch & Hanizsch, 2019). The study, which released its data in 2019 for free reuse, is currently in its third phase, carrying out fieldwork between 2020 and 2022 in more than one hundred countries. The first wave, carried out between 2007 and 2011, included 21 countries and about 2 100 journalists, and focused on the analysis of journalistic cultures. The second wave took place between 2011 and 2016, reaching 27 500 journalists in 67 countries, and incorporating a focus on the changes experienced in the field of journalism in recent years.

The fieldwork of the first two waves of the WJS allows us to examine the evolution of the sociodemographic profile and working conditions of Ibero-American journalists from Brazil, Chile, Mexico, Spain and Portugal5 between 2007 and 2017. The selection of these countries is justified by the fact that they are the only five Ibero-American countries present in the first two waves of the WJS, which allows for data comparison between the two time periods. It must be noted that this sample has a limitation imposed by issues out of the reach of this study. However, we consider that it is an adequate sample because it includes the two most populous countries in the region and the Latin American country with the most differentiated economic model (Chile), and because it allows for comparisons between Latin America and the Iberian Peninsula.

The first survey was conducted between 2007 and 2011 on a sample of 100 journalists per country, for a total of n=500. The second survey was executed between 2012 and 2017 on a wider sample to improve the representativeness of cases (nMexico=377, nChile=491, nBrazil=376, nSpain=390 and nPortugal=407), with at least 95% confidence level and a 5% sampling error depending on estimated populations, for a total of n=2,041. In both cases, a multi-stage sampling was carried out: first, a cluster sampling to obtain a list of news media organizations in each country, and then a stratified sampling based on rank in the newsroom, to assure the inclusion of junior and senior journalists, which was performed randomly. Following this procedure, in the first wave, 20 media organizations were selected in each country and five journalists in each medium (Hanitzsch & Berganza, 2012). In the second wave, the number of news organizations selected depended on the sample size of each country (which had to have a 95% confidence level and stay within a maximum error margin of 5%) while the number of selected journalists in each medium was three for small newsrooms and five for large news media (the size of the media company was determined by the Principal Investigators of each country according to each national context), as instructed in the field manual7 prepared for the study and other works, such as Berganza et al. (2016). Whenever necessary, the Principal Investigators could adapt these processes to the particularities of each country to meet the sampling and data collection requirements.

The sum of participants in both surveys is n=2,541. The surveys were completed in 2011 and 2017, respectively, by a team of researchers previously trained in each country. Preference was given to personal (face-to-face) and telephone interviewing. Online and e-mail interviewing methods were used only in exceptional cases and due to accessibility issues.

It should be noted that the sample of the first wave followed a probabilistic design but was not representative, as it acted as a sort of pilot study. However, this first sample size is considerable (100 journalists per country) and was randomly selected, as in the second wave. This article assumes the deficit that this and the lack of similar works may entail, given that the same variables are analyzed under the same perspectives. Considering that this is the first comparative study of the conditions of Ibero-American journalists in two periods of time, the sample is considered large enough for an exploratory study like this, which in any case would benefit from an update after the third wave of the WJS.


Both waves included variables related to journalists’ working conditions, as well as basic socio-demographic questions. The questionnaires were validated by experts prior to their application. Pilot tests were also carried out in some countries to ensure the items were understood as intended. Between the first and second waves the measurement levels and direction were slightly modified in some variables (e.g. by opening or closing answer options), without affecting the measurement intent of the constructs. The measures included in this study are those that measure aspects related to precarious work. Thus, as a general rule, and based on the previous literature review, having several jobs inside or outside the sector, less experience, lack of specialized university studies in the sector, no union membership and no full-time employment tend to increase journalists’ precarious work. Below are the measures used for the comparative analysis of the data:

  • Multi-employment: indicates whether the journalist works for multiple newsrooms (1) or for a single newsroom (2).

  • Employment besides journalism: indicates whether the journalist engages in other paid activities outside the journalistic profession

  • (1) or not (2).

  • University studies: indicates whether the journalist holds a college/ Bachelor’s degree or equivalent (1) or not (2).

  • Specialization in journalism or similar: shows whether the journalist holds a university degree in journalism and/or communication (1) or not (2).

  • Professional experience in journalism: number of years working as a journalist.

  • Union membership: indicates whether the journalist belongs (1) or not (2) to any professional association or union.

  • Employment status: four dummy variables that indicate the type of contract the journalist has: full-time (yes=1, no=2), part-time (yes=1, no=2), freelancer (yes=1, no=2) or other (yes=1, no=2).

The questionnaire also included sociodemographic variables: age (in years), gender (woman=1, male=2), income (on a 1-10 scale, with country-specific salary ranges, with 1 being the lowest salary and 10 the highest salary), and rank in the company (journalist or news writer=0, journalist with management positions=1).

Except in the case of age, years of professional experience and income, which are metric or scale variables, the other variables are categorical or nominal. However, they have been measured in relation to a unit (they are separated by a unit; between 0 and 1 or between 1 and 2), which turns them into dummy variables that can be statistically treated as metric variables in reference analyses.

Similarly, it is worth noting two categorical variables that, together with gender, acted as factors for the comparison of the rest of the variables: wave of the WJS (first and second) and country (Brazil, Chile, Mexico, Spain and Portugal; which can be grouped into two subregions to expand the response to RQ3, so that Brazil, Chile and Mexico constitute the American subregion, while Spain and Portugal constitute the Iberian subregion).


SPSS v25 was used to carry out an exploratory analysis of data to verify the presence of extreme values and the number of missing cases (without inputting missing values to any variables). Univariable analyses and contingency tables were then executed to answer the descriptive research questions. Finally, several inferential tests of mean contrast were carried out: one-way ANOVA and Student t-tests for independent samples (taking as reference the values α=0.05, α=0.01 y α=0.001).

The objective of these tests was to contrast the existence of differences in each of the variables shown in the previous section based on three factors: the two waves (to answer RQ1 on the hypothetical existence of temporal differences, and which are the contrasts shown in the first two parts of the Results section), gender (which, in addition to a study variable, also acts here as an analysis factor, to answer RQ2 on the hypothetical existence of gender differences, which is presented in the third part of the Results section), and country (answering RQ3 on the hypothetical differences between countries and between subregions, which is presented in the fourth part of the Results section).


Changes in the sociodemographic profile of Ibero-American journalists in the first two decades of the 21st century (2007-2017)

Before studying the results, an exploratory analysis of the data was carried out to approach the sociodemographic changes that have occurred between the two waves, performing Student t-tests for independent samples depending on the different waves. One of the most striking results is that the average age of journalists was significantly lower in the second wave [M1=38.35, SD1=8.952; M2=36.67, SD2=9.937; t(825.101)=3.644, p<0.001, d=0.18]. In terms of gender (12, being 1=woman y 2=man), in both cases the values have remained homogeneous [M1=1.57, SD1=0.495; M2=1.58, SD2=0.494, t(2537)= -0.112, p=0.911], with slight superiority in the number of men. As for the rank of journalists in the companies where they work (0-1, being 0= journalist or news writer, and 1= journalist with management positions), the volume of journalists and reporters has increased in relation to those in management/editorial positions [M1=0.40, SD1=0.490; M2=0.32, SD2=0.466; t(741.278)=3.323, p<0.01, d=0.17]. This result could explain, to some extent, the significant and huge decline in wages (110, being 10 the highest income level) [M1=5.07, SD1=2.515; M2=3.68, SD2=1.994; t(684.444)=11.021, p<0.001, d=0.61], an aspect which, in turn, also contributes to the increase in precarious work. In this case, the effect size -measured with Cohen’s d (1988) - ranges from medium to large and, together with the values mentioned above, the economic crisis has probably been very relevant in this decrease in wages, as it hit stronger countries such as Spain, Portugal and Brazil in the period corresponding to the second wave (2012-2017).

Changes in the working conditions of Ibero-American journalists between 2007 and 2017

Student’s t-test for independent samples shows that variations have occurred between the two waves of the WJS in the five Ibero-American countries under study. It is observed, for example, that multi-employment has increased significantly. An example of this is that there is a greater number of journalists who work for more than one newsroom (1-2, being 1=works for more than multiple newsrooms and 2=works for a single newsrooms) [M1=1.84, SD1=0.367; M2=1.73, SD2=0.446; t(900.943)=5.981, p<0.001, d=0.27] and have jobs outside the journalistic profession (1-2, being 1=works outside of journalism and 2=works just as a journalists) [M1=1.84, SD1=0.366; M2=1.78, SD2=0.417; t(841.459)=3.440, p<0.01, d=0.15]. The need for a second job -both within and outside the field of journalism- is growing, although it is not yet the majority. This tendency to precarious work is complemented by the fact that the number of journalists who hold a full-time position (1-2, being 1=full-time job and 2=other forms of employment) [M1=1.09, SD1=0.286; M2=1.20, SD2=0.398; t(1027.159)=-6.896, p<0.001, d=0.32] has declined significantly, while the number of shares of journalists who have part-time contracts (1-2, being 1=part-time job and 2=other forms of employment) [M1=1.98, SD1=0.147; M2=1.88, SD2=0.324; t(1778.065)=9.952, p<0.001, d=0.40] and work as freelance (1-2, being 1=works as a freelance and 2=other forms of employment) [M1=1.96, SD1=0.196; M2=1.93, SD2=0.261; t(982.002)=3.198, p<0.01, d=0.13] have increased. These significant differences are reaffirmed by the effect size of some of them, especially those related to the type of employment (permanent or temporary positions), whose effect size is close to medium. Thus, it can be said that the employment of Ibero-American journalists has shifted towards greater flexibility and less stability.

Regarding the formal education of journalists, there are no significant changes in the level of education completed (1-2, being 1=holds a university degree and 2=does not hold a university degree) [M1=1.91, SD1=0.287; M2=1.91, SD2=0.283; t(2520)=-0.190, p=0.85], with the consolidation of the importance of higher qualifications as a gateway to the profession, thanks to the high percentage of Ibero-American journalists with university degrees. However, there are changes in the volume of respondents with a university degree in journalism and/or communication, which has increased significantly and whose effect size ranges from small to medium (1-2, being 1=with studies in the field of journalism/communication and 2=without studies in the field) [M1=1.31, SD1=0.463; M2=1.15, SD2=0.353; t(656.081)=7.348, p<0.001, d=0.39], reaching relatively high percentages. In turn, it has been found that the professional experience of journalists has also decreased significantly, with an effect size between small and medium [M1=15.35, SD1=8.587; M2=12.43, SD2=9.129; t(858.643)=6.553, p<0.001, d=0.33]. The nearly three years of average difference can be largely explained by the decreasing average age of journalists.

Table 1 Descriptive results of the two WJS surveys to Ibero-American journalists 

Wave 1 Wave 2
Variables N1 M1 DT1 N2 M2 DT2
Age*** 497 38.35 8.952 2012 36.67 9.937
t(825.101)=3.644, p<0.001, d=0.18
Gender 500 1.57 .495 2039 1.58 .494
t(2537)=-0.112, p=0.911
Income*** 479 5.07 2.515 1471 3.68 1.994
t(684.444)=11.021, p<0.001, d=0.61
Rank in company** 500 .40 .490 1995 .32 .466
t(741.278)=3.323, p<0.01, d=0.17
Multiemployment*** 500 1.84 .367 2024 1.73 .446
t(900.943)=5.981, p<0.001, d=0.27
Employment besides
497 1.84 .366 2024 1.78 .417
t(841.459)=3.440, p<0.01, d=0.15
University studies 499 1.91 .287 2023 1.91 .283
t(2520)=-0.190, p=0.85
Specialization in journalism
or similar***
498 1.31 .463 1901 1.15 .353
t(656.081)=7.348, p<0.001, d=0.39
Professional experience
in journalism***
497 15.35 8.587 1662 12.43 9.129
t(858.643)=6.553, p<0.001, d=0.33
Union membership 500 1.65 .476 2027 1.67 .472
T(2525)=-0.467, p=0.641
Full-time employment*** 500 1.09 .286 2038 1.20 .398
t(1027.159)=-6.896, p<0.001, d=0.32
Part-time employment*** 500 1.98 .147 2038 1.88 .324
t(1778.065)=9.952, p<0.001, d=0.40
Freelancer** 500 1.96 .196 2038 1.93 .261
t(982.002)=3.198, p<0.01, d=0.13
Other types of employment** 500 1.97 .165 2038 2.00 .070
t(543.567)=-3.060, p<0.01, d=0.24

Legend: *=p<0.05, **=p<0.01, ***=p<0.001.

Source: The authors.

Changes in the relationship between the gender and working conditions of Ibero-American journalists between 2007 and 2017

Student t-tests for independent samples indicate that, although now with gender as a comparison factor, the most significant aspect is the strong inequality that exists in terms of age [Mmen=38.48, SDmen=10.331; Mwomen=35.03, SDwomen=8.576; t(2473.804)=-9.128, p<0.001, d=0.36], income level (1-10, being 10 the highest income level) [Mmen=4.19, SDmen=2.259; Mwomen=3.79, SDwomen=2.133; t(1812.437)=-3.949, p<0.001, d=0.18] and rank (0-1, being 0= journalist or news writer and 1= journalist with management positions) [Mmen=0.39, SDmen=0.488; Mwomen=0.26, SDwomen=0.439; t(2384.665)=-7.002, p<0.001, d=0.28] according to journalists’ gender between the two waves6. With regards to the gender differences assessed in working conditions, they are significant in the first wave, with effect sizes greater than 0.2, which Cohen (1988) considers “small”, in holding a university degree (1-2, being 1=holds a university degree and 2=does not hold a university degree) [Mmen=1.88, SDmen=0.320; Mwomen=1.94, SDwomen=0.231; t(496.560)=2.393, p<0.05, d=0.21] and years of professional experience [Mmen=16.83, SDmen=8.869; Mwomen=13.35, SDwomen=7.773; t(480.504)=4.648, p<0.001, d=0.42].

In the second wave, significant gender differences were found in a greater number of variables related to the employment status of IberoAmerican journalists: working for more than one newsroom (1-2, being 1=works for multiple newsrooms and 2=works for a single newsroom) [Mmen=1.67, SDmen=0.469; Mwomen=1.80, SDwomen=0.404; t(1970.171)=6.283, p<0.001, d=0.30], having another job (1-2, being 1=works outside of journalism and 2=works just as a journalist) [Mmen=1.74, SDmen=0.437; Mwomen=1.82, SDwomen=0.385; t(1951.273)=4.125, p<0.001, d=0.19], holding any university degree (1-2, being 1=holds a university degree and 2=does not hould a university degre) [Mmen=1.89, SDmen=0.317; Mwomen=1.95, SDwomen=0.223; t(2015.025)=5.064, p<0.001, d=0.22], holding a degree in journalism and/or communication (12, being 1=with studies in the field of journalism/communication and 2=without studies in the field) [Mmen=1.18, SDmen=0.382; Mwomen=1.10, SDwomen=0.305; t(1894.593)=-4.642, p<0.001, d=0.23], professional experience (measured in years) [Mmen=13.57, SDmen=9.627; Mwomen=11.03, SDwomen=8.271; t(1651.832)=-5.776, p<0.001, d=0.28], and union membership (1-2, being 1=union member and 2=not a union member) [Mmen=1.64, SDmen=0.479; Mwomen=1.69, SDwomen=0.461; t(1879.923)=2.321, p<0.05, d=0.11].

Table 2 Gender differences in the working conditions of Ibero-American journalists in the two WJS surveys 

Wave 1 Wave 2
Variables Gender N1 M1 DT1 N2 M2 DT2
Multiemployment Women 213 1.87 .333 856 1.80 .404
Men 287 1.82 .389 1166 1.67 .469
p<0.001, d=0.30
Employment besides
Women 212 1.83 .376 854 1.82 .385
Men 285 1.85 .359 1168 1.74 .437
p<0.001, d=0.19
University studies Women 213 1.94 .231 857 1.95 .223
Men 286 1.88 .320 1164 1.89 .317
p<0.05, d=0.21
p<0.001, d=0.22
Specialization in journalism
or similar
Women 213 1.32 .467 827 1.10 .305
Men 285 1.30 .460 1072 1.18 .382
p<0.001, d=0.23
Professional experience in journalism Women 211 13.35 7.773 742 11.03 8.271
Men 286 16.83 8.869 918 13.57 9.627
p<0.001, d=0.42
p<0.001, d=0.28
Union membership Women 213 1.62 .487 856 1.69 .461
Men 287 1.68 .468 1169 1.64 .479
p<0.05, d=0.11
Full-time employment Women 213 1.099 .299 862 1.2053 .404
Men 287 1.084 .277 1174 1.1917 .394
Part-time employment Women 213 1.962 .191 862 1.8712 .335
Men 287 1.990 .102 1174 1.8884 .315
Freelancer Women 213 1.967 .179 862 1.9316 .253
Men 287 1.955 .208 1174 1.9225 .268
Other types of employment Women 213 1.972 .166 862 1.9919 .090
Men 287 1.972 .165 1174 1.9974 .051

Source: The authors.

The increase in the number of variables with significant gender differences could be due to worsening inequality between men and women. However, when assessing the average values, it is apparent that certain inequalities have been reduced, just like most effects, so that their higher level of significance was due to the larger size of the second sample. Thus, it would be feasible, as mentioned in the Methods section, that the larger sample size of the second wave is, at least partially, behind these results, and that in terms of gender there is not a very high number of changes in the working conditions of Ibero-American journalists.

Differences between countries in changes in the working conditions of Ibero-American journalists between 2007 and 2017

In order to determine whether there are significant differences in the variables related to the employment situation of Ibero-American journalists between the five countries analyzed, a one-way ANOVA test has been performed for the values of the variables in both waves. It has been observed that there are such differences in both waves. However, in the first wave there are no significant differences across countries regarding the employment status variables full-time, part-time or other, while in the second wave all variables related to employment status exhibit significant differences between countries.

Table 3 Differences between countries regarding variables related to the employment situation of Ibero-American journalists in the two WJS surveys 

Wave 1 Wave 2
Oneway ANOVA N1 M1 DT1 N2 M2 DT2
Multiemployment Brazil 100 1.91 .288 376 1.85 .354
Chile 100 1.78 .416 479 1.77 .422
Mexico 100 1.73 .446 374 1.30 .461
Spain 100 1.90 .302 389 1.80 .401
Portugal 100 1.88 .327 406 1.87 .335
F(4, 495)=4.941,
F(4, 2019)=132.964,
Employment besides
Brazil 100 1.88 .327 373 1.77 .423
Chile 98 1.74 .438 485 1.72 .452
Mexico 99 1.80 .404 374 1.65 .477
Spain 100 1.87 .338 390 1.87 .335
Portugal 100 1.91 .288 402 1.88 .325
F(4, 492)=3.426,
F(4, 2019)=23.275,
University studies Brazil 100 1.96 .197 374 1.89 .316
Chile 100 1.89 .314 479 1.96 .185
Mexico 100 1.89 .314 375 1.87 .337
Spain 99 1.99 .101 390 1.97 .180
Portugal 100 1.82 3.86 405 1.86 .346
F(4, 494)=5.587,
F(4, 2018)=14.171,
Specialization in journalism
or similar
Brazil 100 1.02 .141 342 1.02 .151
Chile 100 1.77 .423 471 1.13 .336
Mexico 100 1.17 .378 341 1.32 .466
Spain 98 1.27 .444 373 1.08 .276
Portugal 100 1.32 .469 374 1.18 .388
F(4, 493)=52.402, p<0.001 F(4, 1896)=37.238, p<0.001
Professional experience
in journalism
Brazil 100 17.35 9.613 376 11.61 9.689
Chile 98 11.69 8.259 491 8.46 7.531
Mexico 100 15.30 7.824 - - -
Spain 100 17.01 8.006 390 15.91 8.909
Portugal 99 15.32 8.094 405 14.65 8.598
F(4, 492)=7.061, p<0.001 F(4, 1658)=65.643, p<0.001
Union membership Brazil 100 1.49 .502 373 1.59 .492
Chile 100 1.80 .402 485 1.76 .426
Mexico 100 1.83 .378 377 1.75 .435
Spain 100 1.49 .502 389 1.59 .493
Portugal 100 1.66 .476 403 1.61 .488
F(4, 495)=12.808,
F(4, 2022)=14.595,
Full-time employment Brazil 100 1.08 .273 376 1.40 .027
Chile 100 1.13 .338 489 1.20 .398
Mexico 100 1.11 .314 376 1.16 .372
Spain 100 1.06 .239 390 1.14 .351
Portugal 100 1.07 .256 407 1.08 .277
F(4, 495)=1.036,
F(4, 2033)=40.341,
Part-time employment Brazil 100 1.96 .197 376 1.65 .479
Chile 100 1.95 .219 489 1.90 .301
Mexico 100 1.99 .100 376 1.90 .305
Spain 100 1.99 .100 390 1.95 .221
Portugal 100 2.00 .000 407 2.00 .050
F(4, 495)= 2.201,
F(4, 2033)=77.740,
Freelancer Brazil 100 2.00 .000 376 1.95 .219
Chile 100 1.97 .171 489 1.90 .295
Mexico 100 1.90 .302 376 1.94 .230
Spain 100 1.97 .171 390 1.91 .290
Portugal 100 1.96 .197 407 1.93 .249
F(4, 495)=3.581,
F(4, 2033)=2.663,
Other types of employment Brazil 100 1.96 .197 376 1.99 .073
Chile 100 1.95 .219 489 2.00 .000
Mexico 100 2.00 .000 376 1.99 .073
Spain 100 1.98 .141 390 2.00 .000
Portugal 100 1.97 .171 407 1.99 .121
F(4, 495)=1.361,
F(4, 2033)=3.117,

Source: Authors’ own creation.

On the other hand, despite the historical and cultural ties of all Ibero-American countries, there is a geographical and circumstantial separation between the American countries (Brazil, Mexico and Chile) and the European countries (Spain and Portugal). This divergence creates the need to test the hypotheses through one-way ANOVA, assigning a value of (2) to American countries and a value of (-3) to European countries. This type of analysis allows us to identify the differences that exist between the two subregions and to identify the region with the greater volume of significant differences in the second wave of the WJS. In the first wave, variables linked to working for other media, having other jobs, union membership and working as a journalist with a part-time contract showed significant differences between American and European countries. In the second wave, along with these variables, significant differences were found in years of professional experience and full-time employment.

Table 4 Differences between the two Ibero-American subregions regarding the variables related to the employment situation of journalists in the two WJS surveys 

Wave 1 Wave 2
Variables Subregion N1 M1 DT1 N2 M2 DT2
Multiemployment America 300 1.81 0.396 1229 1.65 0.476
Europe 200 1.89 0.314 795 1.84 0.370
Employment besides
America 297 1.81 0.394 1232 1.71 0.453
Europe 200 1.89 0.314 792 1.88 0.329
University studies America 300 1.91 0.282 1228 1.91 0.283
Europe 199 1.90 0.295 795 1.91 0.282
Specialization in journalism
or similar
America 300 1.32 0.467 1154 1.15 0.361
Europe 198 1.29 0.456 747 1.13 0.341
Professional experience
in journalism
America 298 14.80 8.885 867 9.83 8.671
Europe 199 16.17 8.074 795 15.27 8.769
Union membership America 300 1.71 0.456 1235 1.71 0.455
Europe 200 1.57 0.496 792 1.60 0.490
Full-time employment America 300 1.11 0.309 1241 1.25 0.434
Europe 200 1.07 0.247 797 1.11 0.317
Part-time employment America 300 1.97 0.180 1241 1.82 0.383
Europe 200 2.00 0.071 797 1.97 0.160
Freelancer America 300 1.96 0.204 1241 1.93 0.255
Europe 200 1.97 0.184 797 1.92 0.270
Other types of employment America 300 1.97 0.171 1241 2.00 0.057
Europe 200 1.98 0.157 797 1.99 0.086

Source: Authors’ own creation.

The two previous sets of tests indicate that divergences, both between countries and between subregions, have been accentuated in the second wave of the WJS. Thus, although the increase in the number of significant differences or significance level could be due to the larger sample used in the study conducted between 2012 and 2017, the t and F values are considerably higher in the second wave, confirming the increase in inequalities between countries and regions.

Finally, the contrast tests of means between independent samples (Student’s t) have allowed us to briefly observe disaggregated data, and to analyze how each country has evolved from the first to the second wave, which in turn will allow us to contextualize and better understand the previous results. Starting with Brazil, there have been significant changes in the percentage of journalists claiming to have other jobs outside the profession of journalism (1-2, being 1=works outside of journalism and 2=works just as a journalist) [M1=1.88, SD1=0.327; M2=1.77, SD2=0.423; t(197.665)=2.879, p<0.01, d=0.29], in the proportion of journalists who hold a university degree (1-2, being 1=holds a university degree and 2=does not hold a university degree) [M1=1.96, SD1=0.197; M2=1.89, SD2=0.316; t(250.824)=2.825, p<0.01, d=0.27], in the years of professional experience [M1=17.35, SD1=9.613; M2=11.61, SD2=9.689; t(474.000)=5.272, p<0.001, d=0.59], in the proportion of journalists who have a full-time employment (1-2, being 1=works full-time and 2=other forms of employment) [M1=1.08, SD1=0.273; M2=1.41, SD2=0.492; t(288.023)=-8.845, p<0.001, d=0.83], a part-time contract (1-2, being 1=works part-time and 2=other forms of employment) [M1=1.96, SD1=0.197; M2=1.65, SD2=0.479; t(396.298)=9.933, p<0.001, d=0.85] or work as freelance (1-2, being 1=works as a freelancer and 2=other forms of employment) [M1=2.00, SD1=0.000; M2=1.95, SD2=0.219; t(375.000)=4.467, p<0.001, d=0.32]. It is also worth noting the sharp decline in journalists’ average age [M1=39.44, SD1=10.138; M2=34.68, SD2=11.223; t(474)=3.844, p<0.001, d=0.45] and salary (1-10, being 10 the highest income level) [M1=6.53, SD1=2.552; M2=3.09, SD2=1.535; t(119.859)=12.850, p<0.001, d=1.63] and in the number of journalists interviewed with managing positions (0-1, being 0= journalist or news writer and 1= journalist with management positions) [M1=0.41, SD1=0.494; M2=0.17, SD2=0.379; t(131.464)=4.462, p<0.001, d=0.55], with high effect sizes, which confirm that Brazil is the country with the greatest variations between the first and second waves. It can be said that the situation between 2012 and 2017 is significantly less stable and more precarious than that recorded between 2007 and 2011, as there has been a decrease in the percentage of full-time employed journalists, years of accumulated experience, rank, age and, more significantly, salary, accompanied by an increase in the percentage of journalists working part-time, as freelance, and outside journalism.

Table 5 descriptive results of the two WJS surveys to Brazilian journalists 

Wave 1 Wave 2
Variables N1 M1 DT1 N2 M2 DT2
Age*** 100 39.44 10.138 376 34.68 11.223
t(474)=3.844, p<0.001, d=0.45
Gender 100 1.55 .500 376 1.51 .501
t(474)=0.746, p=0.456
Income*** 100 6.53 2.552 355 3.09 1.535
t(119.859)=12.850, p<0.001, d=1.63
Rank in the company*** 100 .41 .494 376 .17 .379
t(131.464)=4.462, p<0.001, d=0.55
Multiemployment 100 1.91 .288 376 1.85 .354
t(186.756)=1.652, p=0.100
Employment besides
100 1.88 .327 373 1.77 .423
t(197.665)=2.879, p<0.01, d=0.29
University studies** 100 1.96 .197 374 1.89 .316
t(250.824)=2.825, p<0.01, d=0.27
Specialization in journalism
or similar
100 1.02 .141 342 1.02 .151
t(440)=-0.200, p=0.841
Professional experience
in journalism***
100 17.35 9.613 376 11.61 9.689
t(474.000)=5.272, p<0.001, d=0.59
Union membership 100 1.49 .502 373 1.59 .492
t(471)=-1.842, p=0.66
Full-time employment*** 100 1.08 .273 376 1.41 .492
t(288.023)=-8.845, p<0.001, d=0.83
Part-time employment*** 100 1.96 .197 376 1.65 .479
t(396.298)=9.933, p<0.001, d=0.85
Freelancer*** 100 2.00 .000 376 1.95 .219
t(375.000)=4.467, p<0.001, d=0.32
Other types of employment 100 1.96 .197 376 1.99 .073
t(106.296)=-1.730, p=0.087

Legend: *=p<0.05, **=p<0.01, ***=p<0.001.

Source: Authors’ own creation.

In the Chilean case, there are significant differences between the two waves in terms of the percentages of journalists who hold a university degree (1-2, being 1=holds a university degree and 2=does not hold a university degree) [M1=1.89, SD1=0.314; M2=1.96, SD2=0.185; t(113.734)=-2.288, p<0.05, d=-0.27], who hold a degree in journalism and/or communication (1-2, being 1=with studies in the field of journalism/communication and 2=without studies in the field) [M1=1.77, SD1=0.423; M2=1.13, SD2=0.336; t(126.849)=14.220, p<0.001, d=1.68], the years of professional experience [M1=11.69, SD1=8.259; M2=8.46, SD2=7.531; t(587.000)=3.815, p<0.001, d=0.41], the percentage of freelance journalists (1-2, being 1=works as a freelancer and 2=other forms of employment) [M1=1.97, SD1=0.171; M2=1.90, SD2=0.295; t(237.556)=3.043, p<0.01, d=0.29], and the percentage of journalists with other forms of employment (1-2, being 1=works with other forms of employment and 2=works full-time, parttime or as freelancer) [M1=1.95, SD1=0.219; M2=2.00, SD2=0.000; t(99.000)=-2.283, p<0.05, d=-0.32]. In general, Chilean journalists have become significantly younger [M1=35.87, SD1=8.497; M2=32.99, SD2=8.482; t(585)=3.088, p<0.01, d=0.34], predominantly male (12, being 1=women and 2=men) [M1=1.39, SD1=0.490; M2=1.57, SD2=0.496; t(589)=-3.283, p<0.01, d=0.37], earned lower wages (1-10, being 10 the highest income level) [M1=5.46, SD1=2.347; M2=4.82, SD2=2.513; t(464)=2.185, p<0.05, d=0.26] and given lower ranks (0-1, being 0= journalist or news writer, and 1= journalist with management positions) [M1=0.40, SD1=0.492; M2=0.26, SD2=0.439; t(133.024)=2.624, p<0.05, d=0.30].

For their part, journalists in Mexico showed differences between the two waves in terms of the percentages of them who work for more than one newsroom (1-2, being 1=works for multiple newsrooms and 2=works for a single newsroom) [M1=1.73, SD1=0.446; M2=1.30, SD2=0.461; t(160.100)=8.405, p<0.001, d=0.95], have non-journalistic jobs (1-2, being 1=works outside of journalism and 2=works just as a journalist) [M1=1.80, SD1=0.404; M2=1.65, SD2=0.477; t(177.457), p<0.01, d=0.34], hold a degree in journalism and/or communication (1-2, being 1=with studies in the field of journalism/communication and 2=without studies in the field) [M1=1.17, SD1=0.378; M2=1.32, SD2=0.466; t(195.797)=-3.231, p<0.01, d=-0.35], and have a parttime contract (1-2, being 1=works part-time and 2=other forms of employment) [M1=1.99, DT1=0.100; M2=1.90, DT2=0.305; t(456.928)=5.025, p<0.001, d=0.28]. Salaries have also shown significantly lower values among Mexican journalists in the second wave (1-10, being 10 the highest income level) [M1=4.21, SD1=2.459; M2=3.07, SD2=1.749; t(125.864)=4.354, p<0.001, d=0.53].

Both countries showed fewer variables with significant changes than Brazil. However, there is a similar, albeit weaker, trend towards precarious work, with more journalists in need of other jobs, with lower volumes of employed journalists holding a permanent position and lower wages. The two variables with the greatest changes in the whole study have also been found in these countries: in Chile, the percentage of journalists who hold a degree in journalism and/or communication has increased radically, ceasing to be an unusual situation to resemble the averages of the rest of the countries; in Mexico, the share of journalists working for more than one newsroom has become a majority, moving away from the norm in other countries, where, despite increases, it remains to be rare.

Table 6 descriptive results of the two WJS surveys to Chilean journalists 

Wave 1 Wave 2
Variables N1 M1 DT1 N2 M2 DT2
Age** 100 35.87 8.497 487 32.99 8.482
t(585)=3.088, p<0.01, d=0.34
Gender** 100 1.39 .490 491 1.57 .496
t(589)=-3.283, p<0.01, d=0.37
Income** 90 5.46 2.347 376 4.82 2.513
t(464)=2.185, p<0.05, d=0.26
Rank in the company* 100 40 .492 491 .26 .439
t(133.024)=2.624, p<0.05, d=0.30
Multiemployment 100 1.78 .416 479 1.77 .422
t(577)=0.253, p=0.800
Employment besides
98 1.74 .438 485 1.72 .452
t(581)=591, p=0.555
University studies* 100 1.89 .314 479 1.96 .185
t(113.734)=-2.288, p<0.05, d=-0.27
Specialization in journalism
or similar**
100 1.77 .423 471 1.13 .336
t(126.849)=14.220, p<0.001, d=1.68
Professional experience
in journalism***
98 11.69 8.259 491 8.46 7.531
t(587.000)=3.815, p<0.001, d=0.41
Union membership 100 1.80 .402 485 1.76 .426
t(583)=0.801, p=0.423
Full-time employment 100 1.13 .338 489 1.20 .398
t(160.359)=-1.732, p=0.85
Part-time employment 100 1.95 .219 489 1.90 .301
t(184.380)=1.947, p=0.53
Freelancer** 100 1.97 .171 489 1.90 .295
t(375.000)=4.467, p<0.001, d=0.32
Other types of employment* 100 1.95 .219 489 2.00 .000
t(99.000)=-2.283, p<0.05, d=-0.32

Legend: *=p<0.05, **=p<0.01, ***=p<0.001.

Source: The authors.

Table 7 Descriptive results of the two WJS surveys to Mexican journalists 

Wave 1 Wave 2
Variables N1 M1 DT1 N2 M2 DT2
Age 100 37.93 8.212 370 38.41 10.377
t(193.235)=-0.487, p=0.627
Gender 100 1.70 .461 377 1.68 .466
t(475)=0.350, p=0.727
Income*** 99 4.21 2.459 368 3.07 1.749
t(125.864)=4.354, p<0.001, d=0.53
Rank in the company 100 .40 .492 376 .41 .493
t(474)=-0.268, p=0.788
Multiemployment*** 100 1.73 .446 374 1.30 .461
t(160.100)=8.405, p<0.001, d=0.95
Employment besides
99 1.80 .404 374 1.65 .477
t(177.457), p<0.01, d=0.34
University studies 100 1.89 .314 375 1.87 .337
t(473)=0.552, p=0.581
Specialization in journalism
or similar**
100 1.17 .378 341 1.32 .466
t(195.797)=-3.231, p<0.01, d=-0.35
Professional experience
in journalism
98 15.30 7.824 - - -
Union membership 100 1.83 .378 377 1.75 .435
t(175.184)=1.868, p=0.63
Full-time employment 100 1.11 .314 376 1.16 .372
t(179.636)=-1.491, p=0.138
Part-time employment*** 100 1.99 .100 376 1.90 .305
t(456.928)=5.025, p<0.001, d=0.28
Freelancer 100 1.90 .302 376 1.94 .230
t(131.167)=-1.363, p=0.175
Other types of employment 100 2.00 .000 376 1.99 .073
t(474)=0.730, p=0.466

Legend: *=p<0.05, **=p<0.01, ***=p<0.001.

Source: The authors.

In the Portuguese case, significant differences between the two surveys were only observed in the percentage of journalists with studies in the area (1-2, being 1=with studies in the field of journalism/ communication and 2=without studies in the field) [M1=1.32, SD1=0.469; M2=1.18, SD2=0.388; t(137.442)=2.657, p<0.01, d=0.33], demonstrating that in this country the situation of journalists has not changed dramatically. However, in the second survey there are no values on salaries, a variable that has undergone significant changes in the other countries, so this aspect cannot be assessed. In the other European country included in the study, Spain, significant differences have been found in the percentages of journalists who work for more than one newsroom (1-2, being 1=works for multiple newsrooms and 2=works for a single newsroom) [M1=1.90, DT1=0.302; M2=1.80, DT2=0.401; t(198.951)=2.764, p<0.01, d=0.28], hold a degree in journalism and/ or communication (1-2, being 1=with studies in the field of journalism/ communication and 2=without studies in the field) [M1=1.27, SD1=0.444; M2=1.08, SD2=0.276; t(117.466)=3.872, p<0.001, d=0.51], have full-time contracts (1-2, being 1=works full-time and 2=other types of employment) [M1=1.06, SD1=0.239; M2=1.14, SD2=0.351; t(221.959)=-2.809, p<0.01, d=0.27], have part-time contracts (1-2, being 1=works part-time and 2=other types of employment) [M1=1.99, SD1=0.100; M2=1.95, SD2=0.221; t(358.701)=2.751, p<0.01, d=0.23], and work as freelancers (1-2, being 1=works as freelancer and 2=other types of employment) [M1=1.97, SD1=0.171; M2=1.91, SD2=0.290; t(261.511)=2.761, p<0.01, d=0.25]. In this country, the changes have followed the trend towards lower labour stability, which has also been observed in the rest of the Ibero-American region, also mimicking a significant and dramatic decline in journalists’ salaries (1-10, being 10 the highest income level) [M1=5.94, SD1=1.344; M2=3.72, SD2=1.439; t(466)=13.673, p<0.001, d=1.59].

Table 8 Descriptive results of the two WJS survey to Portuguese journalists 

Wave 1 Wave 2
Variables N1 M1 DT1 N2 M2 DT2
Age 97 38.88 9.147 390 39.00 8.811
t(485)=-0.123, p=0.902
Gender 100 1.63 .485 405 1.54 .499
t(154.853)=1.638, p=0.103
Income 94 3.18 2.115 - - -
Rank in the company 100 .39 .490 362 .42 .494
t(460)=-0.536, p=0.592
Multiemployment 100 1.88 .327 406 1.87 .335
t(504)=0.217, p=0.828
Employment besides
100 1.91 .288 402 1.88 .325
t(500)=0.828, p=0.408
University studies 100 1.82 3.86 405 1.86 .346
t(140.693)=-0.987, p=0.325
Specialization in journalism
or similar**
100 1.32 .469 374 1.18 .388
t(137.442)=2.657, p<0.01, d=0.33
Professional experience
in journalism
99 15.32 8.094 405 14.65 8.598
t(502)=0.704, p=0.482
Union membership 100 1.66 .476 403 1.61 .488
t(154.821)=0.927, p=0.355
Full-time employment 100 1.07 .256 407 1.08 .277
t(505)=-0.444, p=0.657
Part-time employment 100 2.00 .000 407 2.00 .050
t(505)=0.495, p=0.621
Freelancer 100 1.96 .197 407 1.93 .249
t(185.204)=1.133, p=0.259
Other types of employment 100 1.97 .171 407 1.99 .121
t(124.117)=-0.840, p=0.402

Legend: *=p<0.05, **=p<0.01, ***=p<0.001.

Source: The authors.

Table 9 Descriptive results of the two WJS survey to Spanish journalists 

Wave 1 Wave 2
Variables N1 M1 DT1 N2 M2 DT2
Age 100 39.63 8.270 389 39.23 9.166
t(487)=0.395, p=0.693
Gender 100 1.60 .492 390 1.59 .493
t(488)=0.186, p=0.853
Income*** 96 5.94 1.344 372 3.72 1.439
t(466)=13.673, p<0.001, d=1.59
Rank in the company 100 .40 .492 390 .35 .477
t(488)=0.953, p=0.341
Multiemployment** 100 1.90 .302 389 1.80 .401
t(198.951)=2.764, p<0.01, d=0.28
Employment besides
100 1.87 .338 390 1.87 .335
t(488)=-1.593, p=0.112
University studies 99 1.99 .101 390 1.97 .180
t(275.902)=1.709, p=0.089
Specialization in journalism
or similar***
98 1.27 .444 373 1.08 .276
t(117.466)=3.872, p<0.001, d=0.51
Professional experience
in journalism
100 17.01 8.006 390 15.91 8.909
t(488)=1.126, p=0.261
Union membership 100 1.49 .502 389 1.59 .493
t(487)=-1.779, p=0.76
Full-time employment** 100 1.06 .239 390 1.14 .351
t(221.959)=-2.809, p<0.01, d=0.27
Part-time employment** 100 1.99 .100 390 1.95 .221
t(358.701)=2.751, p<0.01, d=0.23
Freelancer** 100 1.97 .171 390 1.91 .290
t(261.511)=2.761, p<0.01, d=0.25
Other types of employment 100 1.98 .141 390 2.00 .000
t(99.000)=-1.421, p=0.158

Legend: *=p<0.05, **=p<0.01, ***=p<0.001.

Source: The authors.


This study is the result of the collective interest of the team of Ibero-American researchers who participated in the WJS to determine to what extent the profiles and working conditions of Ibero-American journalists have changed over the last years (2007-2017). The lack of research on the professional reality of journalists in the subregions of Latin America and southern Europe has led us to follow this line of work. Hence, the greatest contribution of this study is its comparative approach to the situation of journalists.

Variations in the age of journalists has been a reliable indicator of the volatility and movements of the media market in other longitudinal comparative studies carried out at the international and regional levels (Weaver et al., 2007 and Novais, 2018, respectively). It is important to note that in Ibero America, the age of journalists continues to decline and that, in turn, the youngest journalists are, for the most part, women. In this regard, in response to RQ2, there has also been some reduction in gender differences. This trend is accompanied by three factors closely related to the working conditions of journalists: first, the stability that the most educated journalists get (Josephi, 2017; Reese & Cohen, 2000) and the importance given to university education through the requirement of a degree to practice the profession -increasingly in the field of Journalism and/or Communication-, demonstrating that the number of journalists with a university degree is increasing (Band, 2013). Secondly, the structural changes undergone by media systems in general and news organizations in particular, which have transitioned towards digital platforms and content, often characterized by flexibility and greater mobility between platforms, as demonstrated by the declining accumulated experience and the lower proportion of full-time employment in favor of part-time and freelance contracts. Third, and related to the previous point, the strong economic crisis that hit the whole world and the increase in precarious work that has led media companies to change their hiring strategies and business models. In this sense, as the main response to RQ1, it is worth noting the significant level of precarious work, instability and multi-employment in the journalism sector in Ibero-America, worsening phenomena that had already been detected in the past (Figueras-Maz et al., 2012; Iglesias, 2004; Mellado, 2012).

In response to RQ3, it should be added that, although these trends exist in all countries, the disparities between them are undeniably due to their political, economic, social and media particularities, both between countries and between the two subregions included in the study, as it is noted that Latin American countries have yielded more adverse values than those found in countries from the Iberian Peninsula. Brazil is the country where the conditions have changed the most, increasing work precariousness, while Portugal has experienced the least changes. This can be partially explained by Portugal’s economic recovery, which in 2017 already showed significant signs of improvement, while Brazil -which together with Russia, India, China and South Africa is part of BRICS, the group of emerging countries with more promising prospects for growth in the first decade of the 21st century- entered the crisis later, delaying the recovery as well. However, this explanation is insufficient, because Spain, with an economic trend very similar to Portugal, yields significantly more negative values, close to those of Mexico and Chile. The three Hispanic countries, although with a more moderate perspective than Brazil, also reflect troubling behaviors that should continue to be analyzed in future studies.

Despite the significant findings of this study, two important limitations should be highlighted. First, the possible bias caused by the larger sample used in the second wave -already mentioned in the Methods section- which makes the differences seem significant in a greater number of cases, although the effect size (d) has been incorporated in the statistical analyses to avoid this bias. Second, the methods section also highlighted the small number of Ibero-American countries included in the first wave of the WJS, which has prevented the analysis of more countries in the comparative study, and requires us to be careful when it comes to generalizing research findings. In this regard, future waves of the WJS surveys and other parallel projects are expected to provide up-to-date data on a greater number of countries in this region to allow further work. Future research work should also compare the field of journalism with other professions, to be able to determine whether the precarious employment situations this study has found are unique to the journalistic sector or are common to labor markets in other industries.


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4Official website of the WJS:

5The authors would like to thank the Principal Investigators who coordinated data collection in the first two waves of the WJS in each of the five countries: Rosa Berganza, Rui Novais, Claudia Mellado, Sonia Virginia Moreira, Sallie Hughes and Mireya Márquez.

7These three comparisons, which put the situation into context, reflect aggregated data from both waves.

How to cite: Blanco-Herrero, D., Oller Alonso, M. & Arcila Calderón, C. (2020). Working conditions of Ibero-American journalists. Temporary and geographical differences in Brazil, Mexico, Chile, Spain and Portugal. Comunicación y Sociedad, e7636.

Received: October 04, 2019; Accepted: March 12, 2020

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