The majority of young people entering journalism today are from middle class ‘professional’ families, in what is becoming an increasingly socially exclusive career, a new survey has found.

According to the ‘Journalists at Work 2012’ study by the journalism body NCTJ, 65% of those who manage to break into the industry have a parent who is a professional, a manager or a director. (That’s nearly two thirds.) Just 3 percent of new journalists come from a family of ‘unskilled’ workers.

The findings are unlikely to surprise readers of Graduate Fog, many of whom are battling to enter journalism but finding they are required to do endless unpaid (or very low paid) internships before they will even be considered for paid jobs – even ‘cover’ or shift work. Not only are those who take these unpaid internships exploited – those who can’t afford to do them are excluded.

As a result social class is having a huge impact on the social background of people successfully breaking into journalism. Unpaid internships are common and the majority of new journalists say unpaid internships are a prerequisite if you want to break into this competitive industry. Four in five (83%) of young journalists said they had to do some work experience before getting their first job and, of those, a whopping 92% were unpaid for their work experience. The average placement lasted seven weeks, but many were far longer.

The industry’s endemic use of junior, unpaid staff has inevitably led to a situation where new journalists need family support to fund their careers. So it’s not shocking that many have parents who can afford to help, and those that don’t find they simply can’t compete. Journalism would benefit from a more diverse workforce. A newsroom needs people from all parts of society to thrive and produce balanced, inquisitive editorial. Unfortunately for many young people, it seems journalism is no longer a feasible career choice. For a career once considered a trade where anyone willing to work hard could work their way up the ladder, it is becoming more dependant on your parent’s social standing and wealth.

Want to read the full report? Click here:

How are you getting on? Have you been able to take unpaid internships – and have these led to a paid job? If you haven’t been able to work unpaid, what options have you been left with? Do you agree that it’s important that journalists come from a diverse range of social backgrounds? What are the wider dangers to society if it is true that you now have to be ‘posh’ to even stand a chance of becoming a journalists?

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