30 January 2015

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Regional daily auctions work experience placement for £1,000

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.”

His blog post can be read in full here.

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.


  1. Chris Youett, Esq,, Coventry

    The Cambridge News can easily afford to pay people on placements the National Minimum Wage – as can all other media employers.

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  2. Casper

    So it’s moved on further: from paying people the going rate for their work, via paying a small ‘allowance’ (about where I came in) and then just expenses to now would-be reporters having to pay to provide their labour. Does HMR&C allow you to put a negative amount in your tax return?
    Chris: as you well know, you’re right, and most pay very little more.

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  3. Chris H, Lincoln

    It’s always been a privilege to work in and with newspapers but this is utterly ridiculous.

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  4. lensman

    Journalism now a rich mans hobby -depressing :(

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  5. Boring Old Sub

    We have three work experience students in the office at the moment. Think I’ll send them a bill…. with cheques made out to me, naturally.

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  6. Voice of Reason

    This is extraordinary. Selling work-experience like this is at best slamming the door in the faces of those with great potential but little money and at worst a step towards turning journalism into an exclusive club.

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  7. peter lazenby

    I thought newspaper employers couldn’t slither any lower, what with redundancies, exploitation of unpaid work experience volunteers, pay freezes and the rest. I was wrong.

    Peter Lazenby
    Former NUJ Joint Foc,
    Yorkshire Post Newspapers.

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  8. oldhack

    Poor judgement by the newspaper.

    Boring Old Sub – fully agree

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  9. WhatAScoop

    Have to agree with the other comments, though the only saving grace is that the money goes to charity, not the paper. Presumably they do offer work experience at certain points during the year for free too?

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  10. Greeno

    It’s a lot of brass to sit there and be ignored for a week.

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  11. BinaryBoy, Binaryville

    You lot are a bunch of morons. Somebody tries to do something positive for charity, and all you can do is jump on it to kick the proverbial out of it.

    The paper will no-doubt continue to provide its FREE work experience placements, but in a bid to do some good in the world, came up with a novel idea to offer a placement up (to a willing bidder – they’re not forcing anyone to pay) to any person or indeed organisation that might wish to get into a newsroom, and do some good in the world.

    What if Help For Heroes, for example, have an ex-serviceman wounded in the field who’s interested in sports journalism, and wanted to spend a bit of cash giving them some time in a newsroom, AND help out a sporting charity into the bargain?

    Are you all bitter that it wasn’t your idea, or something? It’s not like it’s a new commercial revenue stream that’s going to be milked dry, is it?

    I applaud this generous charity ‘action’ [sic] and deplore HTFP’s green-haired, hairy-footed trolls.

    Think on before you belittle acts of creative benevolence.


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  12. Me, myself and I

    Can I auction off my job for a week please? (perhaps longer!)

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  13. Unemployed hack

    Incredible. Amazed the newspaper didn’t see these negative headlines coming from miles off.

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  14. rolls eyes

    Crikey, there are some idiotic posts here! This auction lot clearly referred to work experience in the sense of “have a privileged look inside a regional daily newspaper while raising money for a good cause” rather than “stepping stone to a career”. In the same way that publishers may take charity bids to be editor for a day.
    Some of the commenters here should be seriously ashamed of themselves for not letting the truth get in the way of a cheap jibe.
    How about making amends by making a donation to the same charity?

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  15. Kendo Nagasaki

    So, just to clarify, how much did the auction winner bid?

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