NUJ claims work placement exploitation

A SURVEY of journalism student placements among various media outlets in the UK has found that over 50 per cent of them took place after the students had gained their qualifications.

It has prompted the National Union of Journalists – which conducted the survey – to declare that “media companies are breaking the law by using bogus work experience placements to cover full-time jobs”.

The union says it is writing to companies warning them it will name organisations refusing to take action.

The survey also found that one-in-five people who did post-qualification work experience undertook a placement for three months or more, with some working for more than six months unpaid.

And that, of those people who had material published or broadcast, 78 per cent received no payment for their work.

More than half of the survey respondents felt that they didn’t get enough support or guidance during their placements.

Says NUJ General Secretary, Jeremy Dear: “This isn’t work experience, it’s exploitation. We’re all in favour of students getting a feel for life in a newsroom, but in many cases companies are just looking for free labour.

“Demanding that people put in months of work for free doesn’t help companies find the best journalists, it helps them find the ones that can afford to put in the hours without pay.

“Even those able to work for free are often getting poor quality experience. Some are given purely administrative tasks and get no editorial work at all, whilst others are expected to churn out professional material without getting any training from experienced staff.”