Media Freelancers of the Digital Age: Social, Legal and Ethical Aspects


The media determine the effectiveness of many current socio-economic and cultural transformations. However, the digital age has created new requirements for the daily work of journalists and other media actors. Freelancing is one of the actively developing trends. According to surveys, media professionals find many advantages to this lifestyle, and the main ones are flexible hours and freedom from the confines of one specific workplace. However, freelance writers often set their own moral and ethical boundaries. The legal and social statuses of media freelancers also remain unclear. The authors analyzed the Accountable Journalism site, which is one of the world’s largest databases of journalistic ethics codes. The project contains more than 400 codes, of which 38 codes cover freelancing issues, and another three codes contain norms on the activities of bloggers. In addition, the current Russian legislation on the status of a freelance journalist was used, as well as data from sociological surveys conducted by the authors of this article and other researchers. Unfortunately, the legal and social protection of media freelancers is insufficient. Although the point of view about the inclusion of freelancers in the precariat class is debatable, there are quite enough reasons to distinguish freelancers as a separate social group. However, COVID-19 has given an impetus to the development of freelancing, and the younger ‘digital’ generations are very loyal to this lifestyle, so it can be predicted that in the near future, the activities of media freelancers will be regulated at all levels: legal, social, and ethical.

Keywords: freelance journalist, code of ethics of a journalist, legal status of a freelancer, media freelance, digital age

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