*GRADUATE FOG EXCLUSIVE!*
The deputy editor of a top lifestyle magazine (you’ve definitely heard of it), has told Graduate Fog that he has been “told by management to take on interns who will work for free” in order to cut the costs of producing editorial content.
The shocking admission came during an exclusive interview designed to gain advice and insight for graduates trying to break into the competitive world of journalism. But as well as providing lots of useful tips for young journalists, he admitted that he had been pressured by senior managers to hire unpaid interns simply to cut costs. The editor – who himself worked unpaid at the start of his career – made clear that he was uncomfortable with the situation and felt it was a sign of the times, saying:
“The sad truth of the industry is, we’re understaffed but more staff costs money so we’re told by management to take on interns who’ll work for free.
“I have friends on magazines where there are six full-time staff and three interns. When a third of the editorial team are unpaid it’s a sign that margins are tight. Magazines (online or otherwise) are clearly now expecting people to write for them without payment.
“Then they spend their days transcribing interviews or returning things from shoots — helpful to us but not exactly useful to them, other than getting the name of an international magazine on their CV.”
Graduate Fog has known for many years that journalism is one of the worst offenders – along with fashion and politics – when it comes to exploiting interns. However, we had always assumed that this exploitation was somewhat casual – keen graduates send their CVs and editors let them come and work in the office. But this editor’s comments suggest something darker and more organised. Now, it seems that senior (well-paid) managers are giving explicit orders to senior editorial staff to deliberately take advantage of young jobseekers in order to cut costs. Is this a new low for an industry that’s already on its knees?
*HOW ORGANISED IS JOURNALISM’S EXPLOITATION OF ITS INTERNS?
Have you interned unpaid for a magazine, newspaper or website? What was the set-up? Are you surprised to hear that the orders to take on unpaid interns comes from management – or have you always suspected this was the case?