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Paul Golden

As one of those who highlighted this issue I was delighted to hear of your new policy. Short term internships are a legitimate means of gaining experience for those starting out in journalism, but publications and websites who accept advertising and other commercial support while expecting contributors to provide content for free are an insult to those of us who write for a living and take our profession seriously. Hopefully other information providers will follow your lead.


Yes, but what about those journalist entrepreneurs who want to start up their own venture. It's all very well saying that it's hindering the profession, but you are also hindering people who may potentially be wealth creating the industry. And if you run advertising on a site, it doesn't mean you are getting paid loads from it. People who are starting up are also doing those who haven't got much work experience or bylines a favour.

It's a two way street. Ridiculous idea...


And another point. Perhaps you should go by the model of editorialjobsUK, which specifically makes clear which jobs are unpaid internships or work experience vacancies in a drop down menu.

Those that are unpaid or work experience, are posted for free, and those that are paid jobs, are paid for. Then there is no confusion...

Francis Sedgemore

Good move.

Mof Gimmers

A great idea and one that other media job outlets would do well to follow.


First and only post on this blog and i absolutely support this decision.

It's things like this and Cheshire Cheese (Hic) that make DWPub special.

Frances Quinn

Great news. I'm sick of reading about editors who want people to work for free, and the exploitation of work experience interns is a real problem - not just for the kids who do it, but for the ones who can't afford to work for free and therefore can't get a foot in the door.
Good for you!

Daryl Willcox

Many thanks for your comments Chris, you make some very valid points.

I empathise with the need to give startup businesses support – I was a startup myself once. And I agree it is a two way street, but I think there is a real risk one side of that street could be wider than the other.

I believe if a startup has a good business model then it can bootstrap the business without exploiting people.

When I started my business from scratch in my South London flat 13 years ago, I paid my staff. Not very much, but I paid them. I even ran up credit card debts to do so. My business became a success and I think that's partly down to the way we looked after our people.

On your other point, about highlighting unpaid positions, I did consider that. I also considered accepting unpaid positions that comply with the NUJ guidelines for work experience. But in the end I decided to just stop advertising unpaid positions altogether because I wanted to take a stand. I don't think it will stop work experience exploitation, but if it makes a few more people think about the issues then it will be worth it.


I applaud you, Daryl, for taking a stand. Good journalism requires a certain level of intelligence and usually a degree - most of my contemporaries even have post-grad qualifications. To think that we should be so well trained and then expected to work for free is insulting.

Christine Michael

Congratulations on your decision and also on your policy of paying staff from the outset. Why should editorial ventures be different from any other business start-up? There are far too many instances now of would-be publishers saying "we'll pay you if we're successful" or "help us market our new venture and we'll pay you when we get round to having a budget". I don't know how publishing ventures get bank loans when they can't show that they have any intention of paying their suppliers. That's like opening a butcher's shop with no money for meat.


Daryl, I agree with your stand 100%. It is principled and professional and you are to be applauded for it.


At last! Of course there is a place for internships and people who are building up their portfolio, we all had to start somewhere! But unpaid work taken by juniors to cut corners is wrong and ultimately reflects in the quality of the end result.


I agree with Chris, in part. I run a website that took five months to start turning a profit - which I now use to pay the 12 girls that write for me. But without them writing for free (and me being hugely grateful for it) that would never have happened.

But, there are companies and websites that exploit people, and that's not on. I just don't think it's as cut and dry as you're making it. They are some shoddy company offering 'feature editor interns' and that's awful, but don't put all of the non-paying gigs in the same boat. Some of us are trying to do things right. Even if that takes time.

Ruari McCallion

I agree with almost everything you said Daryl. The bit I didn't agree with was that Chris made valid points.

If an entrepreneur wants to start up a business - as you did - then good luck to him/her. I applaud your willingness to take risks on what you believed in by running up debts on your credit card - which you then recouped (presumably) as your business became successful, and you became able to take the lion's share of accumulated profits - as is your right, as the one who took the risk and provided the opportunity of paid employment.

Chris' approach does not take a risk - it places start-up costs on others - the 'unpaid interns' hired to gain so-called 'experience'. If the venture fails, they come out with nothing - no money and nothing of value on their cv.

If there was a cast-iron commitment that profits, once earned, would be divided among everyone who contributed to the business' start-up and success, over (say) five years (on the basis that there would be no business without those unpaid contributions) then he may have a valid point. Furthermore, contributors would be able to assess themselves the risk they were taking and decide whether or not it was acceptable. That's the free market, operating in an equitable way.

Without that profit commitment then there is no equitable sharing of risk - there is only exploitation.

Ian Youngman

I totally agree with your stand.

If you look at other sites - it is not new magazines or websites that are the worst offenders, but national magazine groups who every month are offering internships.This is cheap exploitation and the worst thing is that interns who do well think they may get a real job, but get ditched for the next free employee.

As for new magazines that say" we may pay later" they never do as if you are too dumb to cost the content into your business model, you can never afford paid contributions - and most of these quickly close.

Another affront is websites and magazines that offer payment by reader results - has anyone ever been paid by them?

And finally,journalism-free photos from the public should be for rare events only- not a regular source
of news. I want dentistry from a dentist, my car serviced by a mechanic and a GP with medical training. I do not want my teeth pulled by an out of work journalist, my health checked by a volunteer, or my car serviced by a schoolboy. So why should my dentist, mechanic and GP have their features and news written by an amateur ?


I totally agree with your stand Daryl. Thanks for highlighting the issue.

Maggie Hartford

Great news. I think you're absolutely right and thanks for the advice on how to get proper work experience.


Well done!
Startups don't need to advertise on professional sites, they can contact journalism schools and get all the free help they want while genuinely assisting students.

When I started I did some short-term unpaid work but subsequently I have written for free only for charities or non profit organisations.

I'm disgusted by companies wanting high standard copy in exchange of exposure. Many of them can well afford to pay.

Michael Donovan

Excellent policy. I have a micro publishing business (farmideas.co.uk) and always pay people who work, though I am sure I could con young inexperienced people wanting a media career to file, scan, stuff and do all the other jobs that go with a magazine. Which is why I'm amazed that it is so common - I know, I have a daughter caught up in the iniquitous system. Trainee medics get paid, as do waiters, farm workers... indeed every other business but journalism. That the main employers like the BBC and INdependends use so many shadowers and interns is as important as the salaries of their top people. It's a disgrace, and socially divisive as the only people who can support themselves working for nothing are the well-heeled and the off-spring of the existing dynasties such as the Dimblebys and others. I asked the BBC Trust how many interns and they responded by saying it wasn't in the licence payers interest for the HR research to be done.
So congratulations, all power to your campaign, and if I can help, please get in touch. mike@farmideas.co.uk


I have come across this post quite late but I just wanted to say well done for making a stand on this issue!

One point I would add is if anyone is willing to devote large amounts of their time working for free, as is often the case when approached by a start-up, then why not start something up yourself?

If the business doesn't believe in investing in its editorial staff then why should you offer your services for free? Why not be more enterprising and devote valuable time to starting something up yourself? That way you can keep most of the future profit if there is indeed money to be made in the future.

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