Thursday, 28 June 2007

Perils of the job

Canadian print and broadcast journalists say it can be dangerous on the job and they aren't talking about war zones, Canada's largest media union reported Wednesday.

More than 850 Canadian reporters, print and broadcast editors, camera operators and photographers, producers, announcers, and others who gather and package the news, completed a year long national CEP study (the complete report in PDF format) of on-the-job journalism.

In the print sector, more than 75% of photographers and almost 30% of reporters said they been assaulted or threatened with injury on the job. Of those who reported assaults or threats, more than 20% said it had happened three or more times.

More than 80% of TV camera operators and half of broadcast reporters who completed the survey said they have been assaulted or threatened with injury at least once while doing their current job.

Almost half of TV camera operators and slightly more than 20% of photographers also reported suffering a physical injury in their current job that caused them to take time off work.

Gary Engler, a CEP union member, told the Hamilton Spectator the most interesting finding from the study was, "how dangerous the jobs are. Photographers and camera operators are attacked by people and there are a lot of at-work injuries."

So, dear journalists, as they used to say on Hill Street Blues - Be careful out there.

The study was conducted by the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada, with input from researchers at McMaster and Ryerson universities, who developed a questionnaire that was distributed by the union to broadcast and print newsrooms represented by the CEP.

These include most private English language television stations, four of the top-five circulation English daily newspapers, dozens of other daily and weekly newspapers, a few radio stations and one mass circulation newsmagazine.

The CNW Group press release said the study also revealed a strong desire for an independent code of ethics for the news media. More than 86% said they want owners, management and working journalists to agree on a code of ethics that everyone in the news media should follow.

It was the largest survey of its kind ever conducted in the privately-owned Canadian media.

Other highlights of the study:

- More than 77% said promotional considerations influence the news agenda and 58% reported being assigned a story to promote paper/station/management;

- More than 95% said their job is essential to democracy, though many question the commitment to quality journalism of the corporations they work for.

- Almost 70% of the journalists who completed a lengthy questionnaire disagreed with the statement that "the corporate owners of this publication/station value good journalism over profit."

- Almost one-third disagreed with the statement that "the corporate owners of this publication/station respect journalists." Among print journalists, 44% disagreed and only 28% agreed with the statement.

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