How to make the most out of being a journalism intern - Press Gazette

How to make the most out of being a journalism intern

Internships are widely derided as being a source of exploitation and way of ensuring only those who can afford to work for free get into journalism.

But I think that if done well, work experience is a boon for aspiring journalists and an equal trade whereby free labour is exchanged for invaluable mentoring.

If anything, interns should pay the publications (or at least provide the editor with a bottle of whisky, as one student on work experience did for me once).

To help the next generation of journalists make the most out of internships City University in London has teamed up with The Journalists’ Charity to host an event called How to be an Intern.

The panellists are Helen Lewis from the New Statesman, Mirror managing editor Aidan McGurran, Hearst content director Louise Court, journalism student Georgia Edkins and head of journalism at City University Suzanne Franks.

The event starts at 6pm, on Thursday, 16 March, followed by networking drinks. Those attending are invited to make a donation of £5 to the Journalists’ Charity. Sign up here.

Here are my internship tips.

For employers:

  • Pay them at least the minimum wage if they are staying longer than two weeks (this is the law)
  • Have a plan to make sure you and them make the most of the experience
  • Be nice to them. Today’s intern will be tomorrow’s high-flying journalist. One day you could be applying to them for a job!

For interns:

  • Secure placements by sending a short cover letter and CV addressed to the person who deals with work experience at the publication in question (you may need to call up to get that name). Expect your first, second, and third emails to be ignored or missed. Follow up your emails with a phone-call. Repeat weekly until you get a yes or no
  • Arrive promptly ready to work from the off
  • Dress smart enough to go anywhere if necessary (shirt and tie for men)
  • Bring a Dictaphone and telephone in-ear mic (unless your shorthand is 100wpm you will need this)
  • Bring a notepad and pen so that you’re first mission is not finding the stationary cupboard
  • Prepare some story ideas before you start. If you are not given work to do search social media and other news sites for possible leads and keep pitching them to your editor until you find one they like.

Picture: Pixabay



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Author: Dominic Ponsford

Dominic Ponsford is the editor of Press Gazette


3 thoughts on “How to make the most out of being a journalism intern”

  1. Student Union Wants to Ban Clapping and Cheering Because it Excludes Deaf People

    I thought all of the PC fools were exclusive to the USA. Guess I am wrong.

    It looks like the PC-pathetic bug that has infected the entire USA is also alive and well across the pond in the UK. The foolish blokes and blokesess (new word) in the UK are just as wacky.

    What the PC fools need to do, start a new form of silent applauding called PC or Pretend Clapping. That should satisfy their PC-ignorance.

    Britain’s largest national student union has told attendees of its annual conference they would face “consequences” for cheering and clapping because these forms of expression exclude deaf people.

    I am positive; if 100% of the hearing impaired people were asked if clapping offended them, their answer would be an absolute NO.

    I have a few new PC objectives for the idiots that attended The National Union of Students (NUS) meeting where they came up up with this hair brain PC-pathetic idea.

    quit eating for all the people that can not swallow
    quit breathing for all the people that need oxygen assistance
    quit walking for all the invalid people
    quit thinking for all the people with brain injuries
    Last but not least, quit trying to change the world with your PC-pathetic foolishness

    As the old say goes; if it is not broke, why try to fix it?

    One of the things that is so scary about many of the PC-ers; they are supposed to be educated people who some day are going to be the leaders of this world. What a frightening thought.

    A SPECIAL NOTE to all the foolish kids at The National Union of Students (NUS); give it a rest dudes. You are like a cat on a slippery floor trying to run. Your mouth and feet are going 200 miles an hour and you are not even moving.

    I got very confused the other day. I was at the PC-mall and had to choke my chicken. I looked around for a restroom. There were 3 separate entrances. One said MEN’s room – the next said LADIES room and the last one said OTHER. I stood there for a few minutes, almost pissed my pants, trying to figure out what OTHER was.

    Now this was a time in history when there was really something to be upset about that needed change.

    Now don’t forget; the next time someone or something warrants applause; just be more PC-pathetic then you are already and PC, Pretend Clap. You will feel much better about yourselves

  2. He’s doing the very thing he supposedly opposes in trying to overturn the democratic will of the referendum.When he speaks about Gay rights & issues he thinks he’s speaking for the entire Gay population but he’s not speaking for me! As a 22 year old Gay person i don’t relate to him on any level. It’s not in my nature to abuse or put down anyone but i can see why people don’t like him & i can see why he’s taking a break from social media. Arrogant is the one word i associate with him.

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