The NUJ has heavily criticised “bogus work experience placements” for exploit aspiring journalists as free labour.
NUJ general secretary Jeremy Dear said too many employers used internships as a way of getting work done for free and welcomed new Government plans to improve internship standards.
Dear’s comments follow the publication of the Government’s Unleashing Aspiration report on equality which highlighted internships as one of the ways hopefuls from poorer backgrounds were excluded from entering professions such as journalism.
In a letter to the Guardian, Dear said: “While on-the-job work experience is an essential part of media training, bogus work experience placements are increasingly being used to fill long-term staffing gaps with free labour.”
This resulted, Dear said, in only those with the financial security of well-off families or a willingness to build up massive debts can get into careers in journalism.
“Just when we should be nurturing and supporting the people coming into the industry, media employers are exploiting dreams and excluding new talent.”
He added: “By ordering proper enforcement of the minimum wage in the media, it could help make our industry a far fairer place.”