Clémentine EvenoMy name is Clémentine Eveno. I am a French journalism student currently enrolled in my last year at the Gennevilliers Journalism School, within CY Cergy Paris University. I’ve had a strong personal interest in migration issues for a couple of years. Before studying journalism, I graduated in law and had the opportunity to take classes on international law and refugee issues.
When I heard of a dedicated journalism competition on labour migration, I was very interested as this is a topic we don’t necessarily discuss in the classroom. From previous work experience, notably as a host in the hospitality industry s, I had observed that migrant workers in low paid jobs were often working in abusive working conditions. Hosts mostly work as temporary workers, hold several jobs concurrently and have poor access to grievance mechanisms.
I become aware of the hardships of some of my colleagues in the hospitality industry, and I submitted a synopsis on the specific situation of housekeeping staff in hotels in France.
Clémentine Eveno’s synopsis “Indispensables invisibles” - investigation on exploitation of migrant workers through outsourced cleaning services in France was selected by the competition jury on 18 December 2020. As a result, Clémentine Eveno received a cash prize to support the production of the investigation.
I used the cash prize to purchase some equipment to carry out the investigation, record the testimonies and illustrate the story. Undertaking the field work was eye-opening and I had to deal with several practical challenges. The type of questions you don’t really get to explore in a classroom situation or that you only consider in the abstract: How should I introduce myself when I call a trade union? How should I protect the identity of some vulnerable sources, even if they agree to have their pictures taken or their name revealed?
Undertaking the field work was eye-opening and I had to deal with several practical challenges. The type of questions you don’t really get to explore in a classroom situation"
While carrying out the investigation I was able to get an internship in a publication – TaF, Travailler au Futur (Future of Work) – which covers labour-related issues. My story (Nettoyage sous traitées, salariées maltraitées? - Outsourced cleaning, mistreated employees?) was eventually published in TaF as well as another story I did on working conditions of workers in the food delivery sector.
Once I received copies of the publication, I went to meet some of the sources that trusted me with their stories. It was important for me to share this story with them, even though I realized that much of their working conditions would not change because of this news article. I also shared the publication with my classmates, and this generated some interesting discussion amongst us. After I graduate, I want to work as a freelance journalist to have the freedom to choose the topics I work on and, hopefully, I will be able to work on important social issues such as labour migration in the future.
Axel Boursier is one of Clémentine Eveno’s teachers at the Gennevilliers Journalism School. He observed how this experience was useful, supplementing what students learn in the classroom.
Learning by doing is something we look for. You can always talk to your students about how they should interact with their sources of information, but only when they do go out to collect a testimony do they really understand how difficult it is to find the right approach.
In our universities, many students have some personal relationship with migration. Either as a lived experience or a reality within their community. However, they are still quite young and most of their understanding of these issues is quite naïve. I think it is important for them to go to the field, see the diversity of challenges and witness that the reality is often more complex than what the media usually depicts."
Dana UllmanDana Ullman is an American independent photojournalist with a strong focus on human rights issues. Amongst other topics, she has been reporting on the working conditions of migrant workers in the United States.
Since 2018, I have been covering forced labour issues, notably in Texas and Mexico. This led me to take a closer look at recruitment practices. I participated in the ILO media competition, with a winning entry in the synopsis category about a fraudulent recruitment schemes. My idea was to look at how migrants are deceived via social media into fake jobs in the United States.
I feel that my toolbox has been enriched, which is very useful for the type of journalism that I do. My interest is in solutions journalism, trying to go beyond a “good actor” / “bad actor” narrative to explore systemic issues."
After winning the competition, I was offered the possibility to choose between a cash prize or a fellowship for an ITC-ILO training course on labour migration. I opted for the fellowship, looking to broaden my understanding of labour migration patterns, discover the situation in other countries and the structural challenges that migrants face.
The course was an engrossing experience. Listening to experts who are passionate about these issues, learning about the legal framework and about some of the implementation challenges, I feel that my toolbox has been enriched, which is very useful for the type of journalism I do. My interest is in solutions-based journalism, trying to go beyond a “good actor” / “bad actor” narrative to explore systemic issues.
I know I will keep in touch with some of the experts and participants I met during this academy, and I won’t hesitate to reach out to some of them for their insights. At the moment I have had to delay my investigation on recruitment slightly, since the pandemic has prevented me from travelling outside of the United States. I plan to wrap up reporting in the near future, and will definitely use what I’ve learned in the ILO course.