NUJ general secretary Jeremy Dear is calling for the enforcement of the minimum wage in the media industry to stop the abuse of unpaid "work placements".
In a letter to the Guardian, Dear writes: "You highlight the plight of graduates searching for work in the media but instead discovering a world of unpaid "work experience" with limited opportunities for gainful employment (Graduates fall off career ladder, 16 July).
"While on-the-job experience is an essential part of media training, bogus work experience placements are increasingly being used to fill long-term staffing gaps with free labour. The result: only those with the financial security of well-off families or a willingness to build up massive debts can get into careers in journalism.
"Just when we should be nurturing and supporting the people coming into the industry, media employers are exploiting dreams and excluding new talent. The government's panel on fair access to the professions is due to report soon. By ordering proper enforcement of the minimum wage in the media, it could help make our industry a far fairer place."
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