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Twitter hashtag protesting low pay wins journalism prize

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Twitter hashtag protesting low pay wins journalism prize

Valentina Gimenez | January 18, 2012

A Spanish press association awarded a special mention to a Twitter hashtag about not working for free.

Journalists everywhere combat low wages and poor working conditions. But when Spanish journalist Azahara Cano got an email requesting a reporter and offering a pittance -- €0.75 for 800-character articles, or about US$1 for roughly 150 words -- she took action.

Cano launched the hashtag #gratisnotrabajo, which means "I don’t work for free." The tweets snowballed into a movement of journalists, and aspiring journalists, who use social networks to denounce "trash offers."

The movement also protests working for free (or nearly for free) on a Facebook page and gained the attention and support of the president of the Asociación de la Prensa de Madrid, Carmen del Riego and well-known Spanish journalists. The story was also picked up by newspapers ABC and El Mundo which helped it gain momentum.

The hashtag received a special mention from Spanish press association Asociación de la Prensa de Madrid. The association gave the award "in recognition of all young journalists who are finding it so difficult to practice journalism in a dignified way and [be] decently paid."

As the debate continues about whether Twitter is journalism, communicators using the microblogging service are being awarded for their efforts. A hashtag about sex (#talkaboutit) recently won Sweden's most prestigious journalism prize.

In the case of the award-winning Spanish hashtag, some employers may be re-thinking what they pay--or at least what they say publicly.

"Breaking news: #questionity canceled the controversial offer reported by #gratisnotrabajo, that they attribute to a communication error," the movement's account tweeted December 20.

In an interview with ABC, Carmen del Riego said the press association is considering creating an observatory to analyze job offers.

"When I started in the profession, everyone told me it was important to put your head down, but the fact is that if we accept these conditions we not only go against journalists working and having a salary, but also against ourselves.... The journalist's job takes too much time and effort, and there is too much prestige at stake to do it for free," she said.

@vale_gimenez