At the recent Olympics Ball raising money for Britain’s young athletes, the New Statesman, that paragon of equality of opportunity, auctioned off internships £1,000-a-pop. A great scoop from Dave Lee this lunchtime. “You will have the chance to contribute your ideas and writing to their hugely popular website” gushed Lot 75 with a starting bid of £1,000. Guido is currently trying to find out exactly how much the slave ship ticket actually went for.
Seeing as the Staggers would be getting the free labour from whichever champagne-swilling parent that coughed up for their lucky child’s week of work experience, would they be contributing anything to the deal? “No travel included”.
Last year Helen Lewis gleefully reported on Tom Watson’s attack on the Tories when they tried a similar wheeze:
“The Labour MP Tom Watson told the Mail: “This is a crass example of rich Tories buying privilege. Most young people could only dream of this opportunity. The Conservatives flog them like baubles and fill their coffers with the profits. It is obscene.””
Though perhaps it is Laurie Penny, naturally writing in the Staggers, who put it best:
“The Telegraph reports that across the country hundreds of placements are being sold or brokered, often at similar auctions for the wealthy, where the fact that proceeds go to charity gives the new nobility yet another reason to be smug about giving themselves the life chances that previous generations enjoyed for free. For the few of us who are wealthy enough to finance ourselves through work placements, only a firm push is needed to force open the doors of opportunity. Without a co-ordinated effort to reverse this regressive trend, the years to come will be littered with wasted potential and filled with disappointment for young people with nothing to bring to the table but talent, creativity and ambition.”
Intern Aware have slammed the Staggers this afternoon:
“Most people can’t afford to work for free and even fewer people can afford to pay thousands of pounds for the privilege of interning. The New Statesman should be ashamed of operating a practice than puts opportunities out of the hands of hardworking and talented young people.”
They also estimate that “around 1/3 of the editorial staff at any one time are unpaid. Not only do they readily do all the necessary drudgework, they help to depress the wages of paid journalists there.” Shame on them.
Read Dave Lee’s original posting here.
UPDATE: A source tells Guido that the internship went for close to £1,250.