Try before you buy?: The changing nature of internships in journalism
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Try before you buy?: The changing nature of internships in journalism

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Traditionally, journalism internships have provided employers with a “try before you buy” approach, and studies have shown that, in the past, an internship has provided a pathway into permanent ...

Traditionally, journalism internships have provided employers with a “try before you buy” approach, and studies have shown that, in the past, an internship has provided a pathway into permanent employment. Furthermore, it can also be demonstrated that journalists have found their own internships a valuable experience and provide practical, work-ready skills for navigating the social structure of journalism. Anecdotally, it has been noted by the authors that internships increase students maturity, confidence and leadership skills. Forde and Meadows (2011) found that journalism internship programs, if run with a solid pedagogical foundation, enhance student learning.

The issue of unpaid internships in the media has been in the news again over the last twelve months. Fair Work Australia’s report Experience or Exploitation, released in January 2013, found the media industry to be among the highest in unpaid internships, including print and broadcast journalism, and public relations. In June, 2013, the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance (MEAA) released a statement saying the Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) had agreed to work with the MEAA to ensure “unpaid work arrangements throughout the media industry - including unpaid internships for young people - are fair and lawful” (MEAA, 2013). Internationally, similar concerns around internships are unravelling. In the UK, Labour MP Hazel Belars described the growth of unpaid roles ‘a modern day scandal’ and introduced the Internships (Advertising and Regulation) Bill. Part of the attention around the bill resulted from a 2011 FOI request that showed the BBC had used 6000 unpaid interns in the previous four years.

Ongoing, secure employment is increasingly difficult to get in some parts of the media industry and the authors have noted, anecdotally, that organisations seem to be taking advantage of students who are desperate to work in the industry. Many students in journalism programs still want to work for mainstream media organisations and are willing to spend time during their education working in an unpaid capacity. The FWA report surveyed students from the University of Technology Sydney to discover how journalism students viewed internships. However, UTS is a metropolitan university and its students may have a different experience of university than students in other areas. The University of Newcastle (UoN) is a regional university in a one university city and the communication discipline has strong industry ties in the region. Would the internship experience of UoN students differ from the students at UTS?

This paper is based on a survey conducted with students enrolled in the Bachelor of Communication at the University of Newcastle and will discuss internships, focusing on journalism and including recent issues that have been identified, and analyse the Newcastle experience within this context.

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Try before you buy?: The changing nature of internships in journalism Try before you buy?: The changing nature of internships in journalism Presentation Transcript

  • Try before you buy?: The changing nature of internships in journalism MR PAUL SCOTT BA, Grad.Dip Comm, Grad. Dip.Ed, M.Litt. Lecturer Faculty of Science and IT School of Design, Communication and IT DR JANET FULTON PhD (Media and Communication) Lecturer Faculty of Science and IT School of Design, Communication and IT Date: 4 December 2013
  • Overview 2 ●  This study takes the FWA questions (used in the 2013 report Experience or Exploitation?) put to UTS third year journalism students and replicates those questions with UoN journalism students. ●  The study’s purpose is to determine the attitudinal differences and similarities of students in a regional university with students in a metropolitan university. University of Technology Sydney University of Newcastle – ICT Building A presentation to JEAA | www.newcastle.edu.au
  • Background – internships 3 Credit: Joel Gillman/CC by 2.0 ●  The issue of unpaid internships in media industries has been in the spotlight over the past 12 months both in Australia and internationally. ●  FWA report found the Australian media industry highly prone to exploitative internships, including print and broadcast journalism. ●  UK: more than 6000 people had worked for the BBC without receiving payment in a four year period between 2007-2011. ●  US: Intern Nation: How to earn little and learn nothing in the brave new economy (2011) by Ross Perlin. ●  In 2013, Condé Nast shuts down internship program after lawsuit and media outrage. A presentation to JEAA | www.newcastle.edu.au
  • Background – University of Newcastle ●  Throughout undergraduate enrolment, UoN students are encouraged to avail themselves of experiential opportunities provided through both the program’s formal links with industry partners, professional placement, and informal opportunities that students are able to seek out for themselves. ●  UoN has long-standing links with media industry organisations in the Newcastle, Hunter region and Central Coast area. A presentation to JEAA | www.newcastle.edu.au * 4
  • Literature ●  Previous studies have demonstrated that an internship has provided a recognisable and focused pathway into permanent employment (Austin & Cokley, 2006; Forbes, 2009). ●  Forde and Meadows (2011) found that journalism internship programs, when operated in conjunction with a solid pedagogical foundation, enhance student learning. ●  Fulton & Scott (2013) found many journalists have reflected upon their own internships as a valuable experience that provided practical, work-ready skills. ●  Anecdotally, it has been noted by academics working in the BComn program at UoN that internships help increase student maturity, confidence and leadership skills. A presentation to JEAA | www.newcastle.edu.au * 5
  • Students and work experience ●  The authors have noticed a large upsurge in requests from employers and organisations wanting to offer “opportunities”. ●  Many students in journalism programs want to work for mainstream media organisations and are willing to spend time during their education working in an unpaid capacity. ●  There are wide discrepancies between the types of work related opportunities and outcomes experienced by students. A presentation to JEAA | www.newcastle.edu.au * 6
  • Research question Would the internship experience of UoN students differ from the students at UTS? A presentation to JEAA | www.newcastle.edu.au * 7
  • The Universities * 8 UoN •  Regional university in Newcastle, Australia •  Seventh largest city in Australia •  One university city UTS University of Technology Sydney •  •  University of Newcastle – ICT Building A presentation to JEAA | www.newcastle.edu.au Metropolitan university in Sydney, Australia Largest city in Australia •  Five universities plus other campuses
  • Fair Work Australia Report Experience or Exploitation? The Nature, Prevalence and Regulation of Unpaid Work Experience, Internships and Trial Periods in Australia Commissioned by Fair Work Ombudsman - released January 2013 Looked into the “nature, prevalence and regulation of unpaid work experience, internships and trial periods in Australia” (Stewart & Owens, 2013) Surveyed several groups: ●  ACEN members (Australian Collaborative Education Network) about student experiences ●  Students about their experiences including law students and UTS journalism students A presentation to JEAA | www.newcastle.edu.au * 9
  • Methodology ●  October 2013 (UoN): anonymous survey of undergraduate students enrolled in the Bachelor of Communication at UoN –  204 students –  22 third year journalism students ●  September 2012: UTS survey – 14 third year journalism students ●  12 standard questions used by Fair Work Australia A presentation to JEAA | www.newcastle.edu.au 10 *
  • Results and discussion 11 * Not a lot of difference to most questions but differences were found in: •  How much unpaid work outside degree program •  How many periods of unpaid work •  How much time spent in unpaid work •  How many students had received paid employment University of Technology Sydney University of Newcastle – ICT Building A presentation to JEAA | www.newcastle.edu.au
  • Question 1 At what institution are you enrolled as a student? •  University of Newcastle: all answered UoN •  University of Technology Sydney: all answered UTS A presentation to JEAA | www.newcastle.edu.au 12 *
  • Question 2 13 * In which degree(s) are you currently enrolled in at that institution? University of Newcastle University of Technology Sydney Bachelor of Communication (Journalism major) 95.5% Bachelor of Communication/Bachelor of Law 4.5% 10/22 x double major with PR 1/22 x double major with media studies 1/22 x double major with media production BA Communications (Journalism) 57% A presentation to JEAA | www.newcastle.edu.au Journalism and Law 29% Journalism and International Studies 14%
  • Question 3 Are you a domestic student or an international student? A presentation to JEAA | www.newcastle.edu.au 14 *
  • Question 4 Since leaving high school, have you ever performed unpaid work (other than as a volunteer or as part of your own or a family member’s business)? A presentation to JEAA | www.newcastle.edu.au 15 *
  • Question 5 (If Yes to Q4) How many of those periods of unpaid work were undertaken for credit towards, or as a required element of, a degree or other educational qualification? A presentation to JEAA | www.newcastle.edu.au 16 *
  • Question 6 (If None or Some to Q5) Approximately how many periods of unpaid work have you undertaken since high school that were not part of a degree or other qualification? A presentation to JEAA | www.newcastle.edu.au 17 *
  • Question 7 What was the duration, or range of durations, of these arrangements? UoN “I interned at [local radio station] for almost a year, [name deleted] magazine for 6+ months, [radio station] for a month so about 2 years in total” (UoN student). “1 year at [name deleted] website, 1 year at [name deleted] magazine, 1x [broadcast outlet] internship I week, 4 weeks at [print publication], 2 months as [job title] [radio station]” (UoN student). “Ranging from 1 week to 18 months” (UoN student). UTS “First - one year (2 days a week). Second - one week. Third - one night a week for 6 months” (UTS student). “10 internships roughly 3 months long across 3 years. Also completed 5 different work experience placements” (UTS student). A presentation to JEAA | www.newcastle.edu.au 18 *
  • Question 8 Please identify the type(s) of business or organisation for which you worked (eg law firm, radio stations, public hospital, childcare centre, etc.) •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  radio stations (commercial and public) TV stations production companies event management organisations publishers student and other magazines advertising and marketing agencies online marketing groups Government NGO organisations online publications web design companies NFP organisations commercial businesses. A presentation to JEAA | www.newcastle.edu.au 19 *
  • Question 9 While undertaking such extracurricular unpaid work, have you ever performed tasks that are of direct and immediate benefit to the business or organisation in question (eg work that contributes to some product or service being supplied to a customer)? A presentation to JEAA | www.newcastle.edu.au 20 *
  • Question 10 What perceived advantages or benefits led you to undertake unpaid work outside of a degree or other qualification? (More than one can be answered) a. Better understanding of particular industry, business or occupation b. Chance to acquire, practise or improve particular skills c. Improve your employability d. Make useful contacts e. Promise of future employment if you performed well f. Help decide whether to change career or course of study g. Other A presentation to JEAA | www.newcastle.edu.au 21 *
  • Question 11 Did any such periods of unpaid work lead to an offer of paid employment? A presentation to JEAA | www.newcastle.edu.au 22 *
  • Question 12 Please add any further comments or observations you may have about unpaid work undertaken outside of a degree or other qualification “It is hard to secure work experience and as a student in this degree you feel pressure to do it to improve your employability” (UoN student). “I continue to participate in unpaid work, mainly to learn skills and become more employable” (UoN student). “In a cutting edge industry, I believe that showing future employers that you worked for free to gain that extra experience looks amazing on a resume. It shows dedication and passion. All components which are imperative in the industry” (UoN student). “In the field of journalism, unpaid work is a vital and accepted part of gaining employment in the industry the benefits are innumerable” (UTS student). “I wouldn't be where I am today (in an industry I love, working for one of the most respected companies in the field) without having interned first” (UTS student). A presentation to JEAA | www.newcastle.edu.au 23 *
  • Question 12 Please add any further comments or observations you may have about unpaid work undertaken outside of a degree or other qualification Some students found it unfair that the work was unpaid: “Such an important thing to do but a small payment would really help. Time/ energy/ petrol have cost lots” (UoN student). “If you are doing work that is above and of the standard that others get paid for, it's not right that it's an unpaid internship” (UTS student). BUT important to get work experience: “Unpaid work is crucial, if students think they’re above it they should change their degree” (UoN student). “People with a sense of entitlement underestimate how necessary work experience is in this job market” (UTS student). A presentation to JEAA | www.newcastle.edu.au 24 *
  • 25 * Conclusion ●  Work experience is an important part of journalism programs in Universities around the country ●  More similarities than we expected between the metro and regional universities ●  But, not all students are receiving similar benefits ●  Guidelines are important across all communication employment fields, including journalism A presentation to JEAA | www.newcastle.edu.au
  • DISCUSSION A presentation to Journalism Education Association of Australia (JEAA) 4 December 2013 CRICOS Provider 00109J | www.newcastle.edu.au
  • Bibliography Austin, J. & Cokley, J., 2006, ‘The key hiring criteria used by journalism employers’, Australian Studies in Journalism, vol. 17, School of Journalism and Communication, The University of Queensland, Australia, pp. 74-89. Forbes, A. 2009, Utilizing mentoring feedback in journalism work placements: producing workready graduates for the 21st century newsroom, paper presented at New Zealand Association for Cooperative Education Annual Conference, Waiheke Island, 23rd - 24th of April, 2009. http://www.nzace.ac.nz/conferences/papers/Proceedings_2009.pdf - accessed 9.1.10. Forde, S. & Meadows, M., 2011, ‘Industry placements in journalism education: Exploring enhanced learning and professional growth for interns’, JRE Journal, http://jrejournal.com/ojs-2.3.7/index.php/jre/article/view/12/32 - accessed 13.7.13 Fulton, J. & Scott, P., 2013, ‘Tilling the field in journalism education: implications of a systems model approach for journalism education’, Journalism Education, vol. 2 (1), pp. 62-75, http://journalism-education.org/2013/05/tilling-the-field-in-journalism-education-implications-ofa-systems-model-approach-for-journalism-education/ Hanusch, F., 2012, ‘Australian journalism students' motivations and job expectations: evidence from a survey across six universities’, Australian Journalism Review, 34 (2), pp. 85-98 Stewart, A. & Owens, R., 2013, Experience or exploitation?: The nature, prevalence and regulation of unpaid work experience, internships and trial periods in Australia, University of Adelaide, http://www.fairwork.gov.au/Publications/Research/UW-complete-report.pdf accessed 13.7.13.