The newspaper publisher Newsquest is facing criticism from within the media industry after it was revealed students were charged a fee having a by-line appear with their published content.
The costs, according to remarks in The Guardian from Gary Kendall, managing director of Newsquest South London, consisted of £120, £100 for a registration fee by the school and £20 for a student to take part, had been an administrative cost, and cover the scheme and an award ceremony at the end of the year.
Diana Jarvis, the organiser of the Young Reporter scheme in south London, in a telephone interview, said schools were happy to get involved when contacted. Jarvis said the only changes that were made to the scheme were the involvement of a couple of universities.
“It needs to be a chargeable scheme to cover our costs,” Jarvis said. “It evolved from a small project to a full time job.”
Jarvis did not disclose which universities were asked to be involved. The scheme has been in operation for 7 years.
The scheme ‘beggars belief’
Criticism of the scheme had been immediate. The National Union of Journalists’ General Secretary, Michelle Stanistreet, in a statement on the union’s web site, said Newsquest should provide journalism students with a meaningful work experience and if articles were of good quality, writers should be paid.
“The unpaid intern has become the scourge of the media profession,” Stanistreet said. “Now Newsquest is asking for journalist students to actually pay for a by-line. The company’s cynicism beggars belief, and preys on young people desperate to get a break in a competitive industry.”
In a statement, the Student Publication Association said the Association condemned Newsquest’s scheme.
“Newsquest’s stipulation that a university or training provider will foot £100 of the £120 cost, means that the cost is likely to be passed onto the student anyway, in addition to tuition or course fees, for instance,” the statement read. “While recognising that short-term, unpaid work experience is one of the ways a trainee journalist can build their portfolio and expand their skills-base, we reject the notion a student should be billed for their labour, as this would unfairly exclude aspiring reporters from disadvantaged and socially diverse backgrounds.”
Kettle is a national member of the Student Publication Association.
Scheme going outside London?
Criticism was also seen on social media, particularly Twitter.
— Elena Cresci (@elenacresci) February 10, 2015
— Rachel Gerrish (@RLGerrish) February 10, 2015
Some are in favour of the scheme. In a telephone interview, Dan Townend, Associate Professor at Kingston University London, who had been volunteering to assist with the scheme, said he did not have an issue with the £20 cost for students, noting that the scheme was voluntary, and it was an investment to start a career.
“If you were charging paid journalists, that would be different,” Townend said. “But small administrative charges wouldn’t hurt. Newsquest did it to encourage entrance into the industry. I don’t see an issue asking for money to subsidise it.”
Townend said the scheme should be encouraged to all students.
It is unclear if the scheme will go to areas outside of the M25. Jarvis told Kettle there may be plans for the scheme to go national, but did not discuss a specific timetable should that go ahead.
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