28 شهریور 1391

Iranian journalists’ problems hike, as newsprint price soars

Will more journalists lose their jobs?

18 September 2012

Reported by Saeed Razidoust

Translated by Rose Arjmand

Khabarnegaran.info-Will the newspapers in Iran survive another shock of newsprint price rise? How will Iranian journalists deal with such limited resources? Should they worry about another wave of unemployment?

The cost of newsprint has increased dramatically and it has become very hard to find newsprint in the market. The independent newspapers are the main and first victim of shocks in the paper market chaos. Managers in a number of newspapers announced due to such problems they will implement some changes the newsroom and the press system.

According to Iranian officials, local factories are able to cover one third of the newsprint needed in the country. This means importing newsprint to the country is one of the first priorities of press industry in Iran, which is directly affected by exchange rate fluctuation. Lately the foreign currencies went high in the skies compared to the Iranian Rial and independent newspapers were the first to pay the price.

Journalists believe any new set of boundaries affect the body of newsrooms at first. Lower salaries, redundancies, long delays in journalists’ payment, and lower quality of work are a few of the many problems that journalists face after any limitation.

Newsprint price cost rise leads to redundancy of journalists According to the latest reports the price newsprint has been raised about 50 percent in the last month. Mansour Mozafari, manager of Aftab-e Yazd newspaper said: “the cost of newsprint has experienced a 80-percent rise in the last 6 months.”

“The price of glossy paper was doubled last year. How can a newspaper deal with such draatic increase especially that they have to trade in cash. We have to pay high percentage of our income from ads as tax. How can we earn enough money to do the actual business? Newspapers are squeezed between stagnant revenues and increasing expenses.” Nematollah Shahbazi, manager of Goal Daily stated in the first round of Economy of Media Conference.

Shahbazi adds: “the Culture Ministry allocated some subsidies on currencies to newspapers to loosen up the pressure and it actually worked at some levels since 2006. But now due to the recession that has lingered for long, the economy has been slow for the last several years. We cannot count of such economic policies any longer.”

An independent journalist told Khabarnegaran.info that: “with the rising price of newsprint, journalists worry about redundancy more than any other time. We heard some rumors that our newsroom will be reduced to one-third following the newsprint price rise. We have three fulltime staff writers at our newsroom. There are rumors that two of them might lose their job. Unemployment is the beginning of an unfortunate life.”

“They want to keep the rest of us on a fixed pay, but we will not be counted as employees. We will not have health insurance or any rights of a fulltime employee. On top of everything I have to deal with chaotic inflation and pay the rent of my house. Everything might change in this country, but freelance journalists’ pay never changes.”

The situation is worse in a number of magazines. A journalist told us: “since the price of newsprint hiked, our manager warns us ‘there is a possibility that the magazine will be closed down.’ The manager blames the newsprint costs. Now we have live under the shadow of unemployment. Such fear became a part of lives.”

Mohammad-Jafar Mohammadzadeh, the Deputy Minister of Culture and Islamic Guidance for Press and Information says: “our colleagues have been under serious pressure in press. We are not wandering around and we do not take this for granted. The market of newsprint is experiencing upheavals and the inflation in currency market has severed it. We will issue permits for volunteer investors and for a number of newspapers to import newsprint.”

Taher Shobeiri, secretory of Paper and Cardboard Manufacturers Syndicate in Iran, states: “the inflation in the currency market in Iran, and the racing rise of dollars compared to Iranian Rials are the main reasons for this chaos in Iran’s paper market. If this disorder continues, this industry is going to be in a serious danger of bankruptcy.”

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