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Newspaper group charges students £120 for chance of a by-line

10 February 2015

Newsquest, the UK's third largest publisher of local and regional newspapers, is charging students for the chance of having their work published in one of its titles.

Diana Jarvis, who coordinates the group's Young Reporter scheme for Newsquest South London, has written to colleges with journalism courses. She said the scheme was open to students who want to build a portfolio of work before they graduate.

She said:

"This opportunity is an exciting and unique chance to experience working for a local paper and allows students to build up a portfolio of their published work over the eight months. Unlike school students, the university students are studying the subject so will have an advantage of possibly getting their articles published in our actual newspapers around London."

There a £100 administration fee charged to the university or college and the student pays a £20 registration fee to take part.

The students, she said:

"… would work as journalists for an online newspaper, writing one article per month for a period of eight months. All articles written are uploaded onto our local online paper, which covers the whole of Greater London.
"At the end of the scheme, all students who complete all eight articles, receive a letter of recognition from the editor, which they can use as a reference with their cvs and their names go into our Award Ceremony brochure, which is distributed around London".

The students go on to compete against each other to win prizes and attend an award ceremony. The top three will become the faces of the following year's scheme, appearing on all marketing material, promises the company.

Michelle Stanistreet, National Union of Journalists general secretary, said:

"While Newsquest is sacking professional staff on its titles, it is charging journalist students for writing articles for them. The unpaid intern has become the scourge of the media profession – 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.

"College lecturers tell me they are outraged and they are quite right to be. We also know that Newsquest is using students to do shifts at its subbing hub in Newport, after sacking sub-editors on its newspapers across the land.

"Newsquest and other newspaper groups have been upfront about saying they intend to increase the amount of free copy and photographs they use supplied by readers – clearly part of their strategy in delivering this is to expect aspiring journalists to pay for the privilege. Where is the integrity in this? Where is the commitment to quality journalism? They should be providing journalist students with a meaningful work experience and if their articles are good enough to be published, they are good enough to be paid for."

Diana Jarvis said the scheme had been running for seven years with local schools. She said:

"We have had nothing but praise from the education establishments involved – with many of those taking part inspired to go on to study journalism. Dan Townend, associate professor of journalism at Kingston University, has helped with the scheme in the last two years.

"This is a community-focused project that offers young people who might wish to enter the media an opportunity to get a taste of journalism and experience involvement with a real newsroom. To suggest that this is in any way an attempt to replace professional journalists, is nonsense."

Tags: , newsquest, newport, students, newspapers, regional newspapers, interns