When you are a journalist at home and you are forced into emigrating and living abroad due to needing a well paid job, it could be difficult to give up writing. Mark Twain used to say about himself ironically “So I became a journalist. I hated to do it but I was not able to find an honest job”. But even if you find an honest job, the dream of being a journalist does not disappear.
So can a non-native speaker work as a journalist in Ireland?
Basing on a search on Google using the keywords “foreign journalist in Ireland”, “no native speakers in Ireland” nothing relevant appears.
What about the salary? Is it a good incentive?
According to the Irish Times, the average salary for a journalist is €26,000, based on the 2012 Gradireland survey. Payscale puts this figure at €26,577. But this is significantly higher in some newspapers/magazines and broadcasters, and lower in others.
Many journalists left their countries because it was not possible to work there as journalists anymore but upon arrival here they had to change careers.
The Circular spoke to two foreign journalist, but they decided to not reveal their identity.
Camilla, an Italian journalist who lives in Ireland agreed to answer some questions
Why did you decide to become a journalist?
I wanted to become a journalist because I wanted to travel, and then the main reason was related to a strong sense of social justice. When you grow up you realize you have sound principles to share with people. I think I possess the quality of objectivity. Taking the Italian media scenario into consideration, you can always see that there is sort of manipulation of the reality. So I wanted to be a voice that can strengthen the other voices toward objectivity.
How long did you work as a journalist in Italy?
10 years in total. I started with an internship, then they offered me a contract. I have worked 6 years for a national newspaper. In parallel I was working as press officer.
Which is the positive side of working as a journalist in Italy?
The positive is the material. In Italy we have a lot to write about. For that reason I have decided to stay in Italy even if I have passed the selection for a prestigious Masters degree in London.
Why did the Italian media disappoint you and why did you decide to quit?
In Italy, if you are a journalist, you are left alone. There is too much collusion between the various political and economic powers at stake and what can be written must be approved by those mechanisms at different levels. The image of the classical journalist, free to write the truth is not really happening in reality. The second issue that arises sometimes is where I have the opportunity to write a well structured investigation, it is not possible to proceed due to the leverage and the actions of these powers.The journalist who has written an article, despite the piece being previously approved, he / she would be in trouble and forced to amend it. You lose your motivation.Another issue is the focus on sensationalism, on what is trivial, not on what it is the reflection or the criticism of society and the political world. This is disappointing for aspiring journalists.I don’t want anyone working in these conditions
Would you like being a journalist abroad, in Ireland?
If I found a stimulating social context, yes. Because what motivates me is is the desire to improve the society in which I live.
Olga, a journalist from Moldova has a different point of view.
Do you think it is possible for a foreign journalist to work in Ireland?
I find it is difficult to find a job in journalism as a non-native journalist. Writing is one of the most important skills a journalist must have. When it comes to finding a job in the field, the competition is huge, therefore the pressure to be good enough to be shortlisted is substantial. As an emigrant journalist, I tried to send out my resume and find a job and did so for some years. What I figured out is it is not what you know but who you know. Ireland is a small country and journalists know each other.
Are there opportunities for a non Irish person to work in Ireland as a journalist?
Non-native speakers come with a huge background in other fields, compared to local journalists. They speak more languages and are experts in different fields (for example on Eastern European matters). I sometimes think about Vladimir Nabokov. He was Russian. Or about Joseph Conrad, a Polish writer. Or other American writers of European background. Or, say Beckett – he wrote in French as well, as far as I can say. It is hard. And why? Because we have to work twice as hard. But it’s ultimately not impossible.