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Most Brazilian journalists are college-educated women who make at least five times the minimum wage, says new research

By Isabela Fraga

The average Brazilian journalist is a woman, white, college educated with a major in journalism and not affiliated with unions, non-governmental organizations or political parties. This is, generally speaking, the profile of the country's journalists, according to research released on Thursday, April 4, by the National Federation of Journalists (FENAJ in Portuguese) and the Post-Graduate Political Sociology Program at the Federal University of Santa Catarina (UFSC in Portuguese).

Collecting voluntary responses from 2,731 journalists from every state in Brazil and abroad, the research has a margin of error less than two percent and will be published in a book this April. "Years ago, FENAJ observed the absence of research into the profile of the Brazilian journalist," said Jacques Mick, a professor at UFSC and coordinator of the study. "This is the first study of its kind and it will advance several other studies of Brazilian journalists, both qualitatively and quantitatively."

Of the journalists surveyed, 64 percent were women, 72 percent were white, 98 percent had secondary education (of these, 91.7 percent majored in journalism) and 40.4 percent had some kind of graduate education. For Mick, the feminization of the profession is not a surprise, unlike the number of journalists who continued their education after college. "Four in 10 journalists have taken graduate courses. These professionals work in a cutting-edge information society and therefore feel pressured to study more," observed Mick.

Where Brazilian journalists work

The study also divided journalists into three categories, revealing the distribution of the profession: those who work in the media (55 percent); those who work outside the media but in other capacities, like public relations (40 percent); and educators (five percent).

The study partially confirmed the impression that Brazilian journalists are low paid: nearly 60 percent of those surveyed said their monthly pay was roughly $1,700 (up to five times the minimum wage) and almost 50 percent work more than eight hours a day. Nearly 25 percent, meanwhile, said their salaries ranged from five to 10 times the minimum wage.

There are also differences in salaries between categories. According to Mick, the percentage of journalists who make between five and 10 times the minimum wage (22.5 percent) is considerably less (five percent) than those who work outside the media (27.7 percent). However, 16.5 percent of journalists who work in news media make between one and two times the monthly minimum wage--between $340 and $680--while just 11.9 percent of journalists working in non-news media make that little.

"This study is going to be useful for both academics, who will use it to inspire other studies, and [those interested in] public policy and the unions," opined Mick, suggesting that journalists' associations could take advantage of the research, considering that 75 percent of those surveyed were not affiliated with unions. "The level of [union participation] is very low probably because many journalists work for small publications and outside the news media, and don't feel represented by the traditional unions," he explained.

Note from the editor: This story was originally published by the Knight Center’s blog Journalism in the Americas, the predecessor of LatAm Journalism Review.

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