Tuesday 13 July 2010

Unpaid internships: Website clarifies ad policy

Journalism.co.uk has clarified its position on advertising internships after running into something of a twitter storm by carrying an ad for a six month, unpaid internship on the Tesco magazine.
Editor Laura Oliver says in a journalism.co.uk posting: "The ad was placed in error – we do list unpaid internships, so long as they are within a reasonable length of time. We had some useful Twitter conversations about the listing and the ethics of listing unpaid internships at all – these have helped us update our policy for posting such listings on the forum.
She adds: "Internships – paid and unpaid – are listed on our forum. We don’t receive any money for those posted on the forum, such as the Tesco ad. We currently carry these rules for posting work experience/internship listings on the forum:'This forum is intended for genuine, time-limited work experience placements and internships (of no longer than a month’s duration) only. Placements should involve shadowing (and learning from) working journalists at an in-office location. We reserve the right to remove at our discretion any posts that are deemed to be in breach of these rules.' "
  • The posting answers a series of questions about internships put to journalism.co.uk by Graduate Fog, a careers advice website which campaigns against unpaid internships for graduates and covered the Tesco story here.

1 comment:

Tanya de Grunwald said...

Hi Jon,

Thanks for the link to GraduateFog.co.uk - we're following this story with interest!

Unfortunately for Journalism.co.uk (who seem like nice folks), the Tesco ad isn't the only ad to appear on their site that breaks their own rules... Sainsbury's, Morrisons, Weight Watchers and Superdrug have all posted ads too.

And those are just the big brands. There are countless other smaller operators brazenly touting for desperate youngsters to come and work for them for nothing:


However, at GraduateFog.co.uk we think the real villains are the companies who run these internships (which are often nothing more than a calculated way to cut staff costs).

This is an issue that has not been taken seriously enough up until now - possibly because it's always reported on by journalists who have worked unpaid in their day, so have little sympathy!

Well, I too have worked unpaid (in 2002), but I can tell you that things have got far, far worse recently. Grads are in record debt (23k on average), and there are HUGE numbers of them competing for a tiny pool of jobs. That give the employers far too much power - and I'm sorry to say that many of them are abusing it in a way that is not only disgusting but also illegal.

Although I lay the main portion of the blame at these companies' door, I think the role of the third parties who advertise these placements is interesting.

In my view, although they are doing nothing illegal themselves they have an ethical obligation towards their users. If they're concerned about their reputation, they should be concerned about this issue.