The Editor-in-Chief of Time Out has defended the magazine’s controversial £2-a-day internship, insisting it is only “work experience.” This is despite the fact that the advert for this position states that the three-month, full-time role will involve “writing responsibilities” and the intern will “build up a portfolio of printed work” during their time there.

On Friday morning, Graduate Fog wrote to Time Out for an explanation about the ad, which appeared on Gorkana last week. The intern – who must be a graduate – was offered only the “princely” sum of £2 a day in lunch money, a two-zone travel card, “plus the odd invite to something very exclusive” as payment. (Click here to see the original ad). On Friday afternoon, Time Out’s business manager, Alex Batho, wrote back:

To: Graduate Fog:
From: Time Out
Date: Friday 13 April 2012, 5.09pm

Hi Tanya

See below response from Time Out’s Editor-in-Chief.

Tim Arthur, Time Out editor-in-chief
Time Out intern/work experience placements do not last longer than three months; most are between two and four weeks. These placements are not paid because they are work experience. The £2 offered, besides travel expenses, is a contribution towards lunch not a fee for their work. Placements are given to people who are studying or just starting out in the media and genuinely want the kind of experience they can gain working within an organisation such as Time Out. We ensure that every person who undertakes a placement with us leaves having gained valuable practical experience and often with some published work under their belt, something that is invaluable when trying to get a job within the industry. At a time when gaining relevant experience in your chosen field can set you apart from others we feel that an internship/work experience placement at Time Out is not only a very sought-after opportunity but one which is actually fun, carefully planned and something we know that many many people have enjoyed and found helpful over the years.

Our own UK Lifestyle Editor is testament to that:

‘Like most people with editorial jobs, I started out as an intern/work experience. However, rather than making hot beverages and clearing out cupboards, my placement at Time Out gave me experience of actual editorial work: I was allowed to practise writing up events (with all of my work supervised and rewritten); I was taken to events (given tickets to Fashion Week shows, allowed to attend openings and make contacts). I was also given paid work on other sections of the magazine, and at the end of my placement I was given regular paid work, which ultimately led to my current position as a section editor. I had no financial support from my family: while an intern, I worked in a bar to fund my placement, and Time Out’s editor at the time was understanding about my need to leave early and arrive late. Being an unpaid intern is hard, but the Time Out internship was genuinely enjoyable and useful. Which is why so many of our interns get jobs — their experience sets them apart from other candidates in what is an extremely difficult climate for aspiring journalists.’

Best wishes


Alex Batho
Business Manager
Time Out
Universal House
251 Tottenham Court Road
London W1T 7AB
Tel: 020 7813 6605

Today (Monday) we replied:

To: Time Out
From: Graduate Fog
Date: 16 April 2012, 1.11pm

Hi Alex,

Thanks for your email.

Unfortunately, I’m afraid it has only proved that Time Out is a very long way behind where it should be in understanding why graduates are so offended by unpaid internships like the one you have advertised.

We believe that unpaid internships exploit those who do them and exclude those who can’t afford to do them. While unpaid internships may seem harmless (and even helpful) at first, they have in fact proved to be hugely damaging for young people.

Now that these internships are so commonplace, graduates are finding that they last longer and longer, with less chance of a job at the end of them. And they have to do more of them – often over a year of unpaid work – before they can find paid employment. Most of the time, unpaid internships do not lead to a paid job – they just lead to another unpaid internship.

Of course, this supposed ‘system’ for entry also serves to block out all the talented candidates who are unable to work (and somehow live?) in London for free. It was interesting to hear your lifestyle editor’s story – but I suspect that s/he would struggle to survive on part-time bar work now, with the cost of living as high as it is in the capital today.

Finally, I would like to ask how Time Out feels that this role fits with the national minimum wage legislation, which states that anybody doing the job of a ‘worker’ (as defined by law) must be paid at least the minimum wage (£6.08 for over 21s). The employer must pay this an the intern cannot waive their right to this wage, even if they say they are happy to work for free. Is it your understanding that this intern would not fit these criteria and would therefore not be eligible for pay?

With thanks again


PS I understand you have removed your advert from Gorkana – but are we to assume that the internship itself is still going ahead?

We will let you know as soon as they reply…


Is this role really ‘work experience’? Is a part-time bar job enough to make ends meet while you work full-time for companies like Time Out? What would you like to say to the Editor, Tim Arthur?

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