[Update: also see my podcast on internship exploitation]
You might be familiar with our media job site, SourceThatJob, which has been running for some years and has a loyal following.
I guess it's not surprising given the state of the economy, but in the last year or so there has been an increase in the number of 'internships' being offered in the media, many of these advertised on SourceThatJob. These positions are almost always unpaid and often run for long periods - three to six months - and are sometimes open-ended.
We had some feedback about this trend from journalists, so I took a closer look at it.
There is a need for young, inexperienced journalists to gain work experience, but there is also a serious risk of what the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) warns against - 'bogus' work experience 'used by employers to get work done for free'. That's a simplification of a complex issue which is potentially damaging in a number of ways, check out the NUJ 'Work Experience?' campaign for full details.
SourceThatJob is run by media people and is part of our family of media services, including Response Source, FeaturesExec and SourceWire. I was concerned that the site should represent the best interests of its audience, primarily journalists and PR professionals. So we've decided that from now on we will only include paid positions on SourceThatJob.
The downside to this decision of course is that we won't be able to advertise real work experience opportunites (see here for the NUJ guidelines on work experience). That's a real shame.This policy may cost us in terms of revenue, but I think it's the right thing to do until the media industry can find a way to deal with the risk of work experience exploitation.