A regional daily newspaper has come under fire after putting a work experience placement up for auction for £1,000.
The Cambridge News took part in a charity action organised by the British Olympic Association to raise cash to support future Olympic hopefuls.
It offered a week’s work experience in sports journalism, working alongside chief sports writer Mark Taylor, for a starting bid of £1,000.
Similar opportunities were offfered by the lads’ magazine FHM and political periodical the New Statesman.
The News said the placement would give an aspiring sports journalist the chance to put together stories of their own and receive expert feedback on them.
It went on: “Subject to suitable times and dates, Cambridge News will endeavour to enable the budding writer to attend a live match with one of their journalists to watch how the paper covers sport as it happens.”
But the idea has attracted criticism from BBC technology journalist Dave Lee, who also writes a blog on journalism related matters.
Dave, who attended the event, said that while offering work experience in exchange for cash was nothing new, it was “depressing” that publications such as the News were taking part.
He wrote: “It was lot 77 that was arguably the most depressing. £1,000 for a week’s experience in sports journalism – with the Cambridge News.
“It isn’t the first time opportunities like these have been offered in exchange for cash. But what strikes me here is the type of publications willing to take part.
“Cash-for-contacts skews an already elite-heavy industry even further, and it makes me deeply uncomfortable.
“Jobs openings in journalism are depressingly finite – and for each person who gets a nose-in thanks to the depth of their family’s pockets, a good, poorer journalist loses out.”
Added Dave: “If the New Statesman, FHM or Cambridge News wanted to help the British Olympic Association, they should have offered a gesture that wasn’t of harm to the industry.”
It is not known whether the work experience placement at the paper attracted a buyer, but the FHM placement is understood to have fetched a sum of £3,000 while the New Statesman internship is reported to have sold for in excess of £1,000.
No one from the Cambridge News has so far responded to requests for a comment.