The Association of Journalists of Kosovo (AJK) has published a report on the impact of the COVID- 19 pandemic on the economic situation of journalists, cameramen and photojournalists.
It has found that the Kosovo media was affected by the overall economic downturn as a result of the pandemic.
The pandemic caused a chain effect in media sector, reflected in the reduction of ads, and media revenues as a result, Imer Mushkolaj, chairman of the Press Council of Kosovo stated for the AJK report.
The impact is best reflected by the suspension of the printing of daily newspapers since the beginning of the pandemic, Mushkolaj noted.
“Currently in Kosovo, no newspaper is published. So, if you go to a kiosk today you will not find any daily newspaper, out of four that were printed and went on sale before the pandemic started,” he said.
The dailies that have gone out of print are Koha Ditore, Zeri, Bota Sot, and Epoka e Re.
Flutura Kusari, e media lawyer, said that the pandemic revealed all the existing structural problems in the field of journalism, especially the precarious financial position of media employees in Kosovo.
“Journalists in Kosovo, in addition to being paid little, and often the level of their salaries is completely inconsistent with the benefits of media managers, have faced delays and pay cuts during this period more than ever,” she said.
The change in the employment relationship and salaries of media employees after the outbreak of the pandemic is reflected in the results of AJK online survey. While for the period before the pandemic, 22 out of 120 respondents had answered that their monthly salary was from 130 to 250 euro, their number increased to 38 after the outbreak of the pandemic.
The reporting of journalists during the pandemic is evaluated as qualitatively positive and accurate.
“The pandemic was a new and unfamiliar situation during my experience as a journalist,” said Jehona Zhitia, who covers health for the RTK public broadcaster.
Zhitia was the first to report from inside the Infectious Diseases Clinic where COVID-19 patients were being treated. She eventually got infected with the virus in August.
“Since the beginning of the pandemic, journalists from various media outlets have discussed what to do to get the protective equipment, and we each had the same concern that we will have to provide them by ourselves,” Zhitia said.
“After this, the editorial office started providing them to RTK, but not in sufficient quantities. This has been problematic,” she added.
According to the Ministry of Finance, in the lockdown period (March-May 2020), Kosovo’s budget revenues decreased by 28.2%, compared to the same period of the previous year 2019, the report notes.
As of March, the number of jobseekers registered with the Employment Agency multiplied by about 40 times, reaching 37,392 in April. In the same period last year, the number was only 6,882.
The AJK report was supported by the Kosovo Foundation for Open Society.