Last Night a DJ Stole My Job

Melisa Skender

I'm about to lose my job. The magazine that I work for is going to close down this September.

Soon, I shall join the ranks of unemployed Croatian journalists – a growing community whose membership, at last count, included some 800 of our 3,000 media workers.

I’m no stranger to that list. I spent three months on it last year, after my erstwhile employer shut down his company.

Is this a story about me? Well, it could also be the story of almost any journalist in Croatia. We are on the market, and the market is not doing well.

This is especially true of workers in local media outlets, most of them from small towns where no one wants to speak about the compromises they make in order to survive. All the journalists I have interviewed so far spoke on condition on anonymity.

I met one of them – let’s call him “Milan” – at a local café recently. He told me straight away that he had nothing bad to say about his employer. Well then, I wondered, perhaps we could talk about the good stuff?

However, Milan only wanted to discuss his new hobby. He dismissed journalism as just another job, a way of providing for his family.

We could not get much further from there. I started to get angry. Of course journalism was more than a job!

But at the same time, perhaps Milan had a point. It was hard to see journalism as anything other than a job when media owners only viewed their business through their Excel spreadsheets.

"Radio journalist?" Milan said. "Well, it’s probably the worst job in journalism. The employer regards you as a useless expense. You are an errand boy, carrying the microphone with a logo for a minimum wage!”

At radio stations across Croatia, DJs are replacing journalists. The print and electronic media do not have this luxury – but they too are finding ways of pushing us out. Across the country, journalists are getting accustomed to their employers’ favourite new mantra: everyone is replaceable.