Salary for journalists in Mexico among the 5 lowest in the country, survey finds

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  • April 14, 2014

By Janelle Matous*

Journalism is still one of the lowest salaried jobs in Mexico, according to data from the 2013 Mexican National Occupation and Employment Survey.

The Mexican Institute for Competivity compared salary information collected by the Statistics and Geography National Institute (INEGI) last year and found that journalism was the fifth worst paid occupation in the country. In 2013 the median salary of a journalist was 7,973 Mexican pesos per month, or about $610.

The study is conducted quarterly using a sample of the population in rotating cycles. The four occupations below journalism were general requirements teacher (about $603 a month), basic courses teacher (about $553), social worker ($537) and fine arts (468).

Salaries for Mexican journalists have remained consistently low through the last several years of heightened violence against journalists. According to a survey from the National Commission on Minimum Wage in 2012, the minimum wage for a print journalist was 176 pesos a day, or $13.

In 2010, the Mexico Representative for the Committee to Protect Journalists Mike O’Connor spoke with Salomón Cruz Gallardo, then general secretary of the local unit of one of the country’s journalists’ unions. Soon after the discussion, a colleague of his was killed. During an interview with O’Connor, Gallardo spoke of the salaries and working conditions for journalists in Mexico.

“It’s hard to be optimistic if you’re a journalist in (the southwestern state of) Guerrero. First, the likelihood is you’re working several jobs, because jobs in journalism don’t pay enough,” Gallardo said.

He went on to say that most jobs do not offer benefits or police protection from threats to journalists for what they write.

“It’s not logical to be a journalist here,” Gallardo said. “I do it because I love it, that’s the only reason I have. If I were smart I’d do something else.”

Earlier this month, Mexican government officials admitted that the official Protection Mechanism for journalists had become a “failure”. They promised that the organization would be restructured.

Low pay and direct threats as among the reasons for a declining interest in journalism in Mexico, said Ariel Muñoz, president of the University of Morelia, in a 2012 interview with the Knight Center.

“The profession’s standing has diminished because people know it’s dangerous to be a journalist and, furthermore, it doesn’t pay well,” Muñoz said.

Press freedom organization Article 19 documented 330 separate cases of violence against press workers during 2013, including four killings.

*Janelle Matous is a student in the class "Journalism in Latin America" at the University of Texas at Austin.

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.