Image from The Spectator – next time will it be an animated GIF?
The Spectator is advertising for interns, and the message is loud and clear on digital skills:
“Just do some of the following:-
Produce a two minute video with either our audio or your own explaining a topic you’ve read about on the Spectator’s website.
Prepare a sample 200-300 word blog offering something new on a topic of your choice for publishing on the Spectator’s Coffee House blog.
Choose a magazine article, and work out the best way to promote it on the website, Twitter, Facebook and beyond.
Suggest three ideas for potential stories.
Suggest two ways in which we could improve how the Spectator’s articles are promoted digitally.”
There is one option (number 4) for those who think they can avoid digital skills – but that is the exception to the rule. It’s also the exception to the preceding instruction that “All that matters in journalism is whether you can do it.”
What the list makes clear is: even to get a foot in the door, you must be able to do it digitally.
“Don’t work for free,” they were saying at the So You Want To Be A Journalist conference yesterday. “It’s fear, not freedom, that drives creators to succumb,” argued Jonathan Tasini in the Guardian.
The advice is understandable. But it’s also easy to say when you’re not an aspiring journalist competing against hundreds of others for entry level jobs.
The fact is that people do work for free to get a foot in the door, or experience, or both – and that many employers exploit that.
The fact is that this leads to a media industry which does not represent the diversity of its readers, viewers and users.
When opportunities are limited to those who can support themselves for months without a wage in an expensive city, to those who can fund degrees and postgraduate courses to boot, we end up with a journalism which may aspire to be for the people — but is not by any metric of the people.
But telling people not to work for free won’t change that unless it offers an alternative opportunity. Continue reading