Estonian union calls for state support for journalists

  • 2020-04-14
  • BNS/TBT Staff

TALLINN - The Estonian Union of Journalists (EAL) has sent a proposal to Minister of Culture Tonis Lukas to support struggling reporters and journalism and, to that end, also introduce legislative amendments.

The board of EAL said in an address to the culture minister that as a result of the emergency situation, Estonian journalism finds itself in a situation where it is in need of temporary support from the state in order to fulfill its essential role as provider of high quality factual information, EAL said.

EAL supports the proposal by the Estonian Association of Media Enterprises to allocate support to struggling publications; however, the journalists' union finds that such a measure would primarily support permanent staff.

EAL noted that freelancers are being dealt an even bigger blow than media publications' permanent staff as the former are mostly working on the basis of a contract for services or a license agreement and their services are easily opted out of. Freelance journalists have currently been deprived of all social guarantees. The board of EAL deems it dangerous that experienced journalists may have no other alternative but to find employment elsewhere.

"The crisis budget and support to media enterprises disregards freelance journalists, who are being hit hardest. Recognizing journalists as creative professionals is more important than one-off financial support, as it would allow freelance journalists to also receive support as creative persons when they are struggling at any other time. In the present crisis, this help would go a long way," chair of EAL Helle Tiikmaa said.

As EAL is not an artistic association in the legal sense, journalists cannot at present apply for support for creative activity neither through EAL nor directly from the Ministry of Culture. It is the position of EAL that journalists, too, should be considered creative persons and provided with support from the corresponding resources.