Two years

More depressing news. Stumbled across this today on the journalism blog Getting Ink:

Indeed, one magazine editor said someone looking to break into journalism should expect to work for free for two years. Yes, you read that right – TWO YEARS. Jesus.

I checked to find the editor in question. attributed the statement to Maureen Rice of Psychologies (at Hachette Fillipacchi), although she has clarified the statement on the same site:

I would like to clarify: I didn’t say that journalists “should expect” to work for free for two years, and certainly didn’t imply that I consider that standard or desirable. I said I’d known people work for up to two years in a variety or work experience placements and internships before landing a properly paying job.

Which isn’t quite as bad, but still – two years? Really?

The whole idea of working for free (work experience, internship – pick your own euphemism) to get a job is not, of course, new, and I did the same thing. Some places were interesting and useful – a brief spell at the BBC was my first opportunity to learn anything at all about television news – but it’s not easy working without pay. And that’s despite the fact that I was lucky enough to be able to live at home at the time, and to find a full time day job from which I could take “holidays” working on, for example, the local paper – not everyone has it that easy.

And then, of course, I was lucky enough to get a paid job on a magazine. Would I have managed to stick unpaid work for two years? I’m really not sure that I could have. And, given that I’m not entirely sure what other jobs I could actually do, that’s a rather depressing thought.

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