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Wednesday 11th
posted by Peter Lazenby in Britain

Students forced to cough up to see their names in print

REGIONAL newspaper group Newsquest has attempted to charge £120 for granting budding journalists the privilege of having articles published, the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) revealed yesterday.

Britain’s third-largest regional newspaper publisher contacted colleges running journalism courses telling them that student journalists could build their portfolios by publishing work through the scheme.

Articles would appear in Newsquest’s London publications, with colleges coughing up £100 and students paying a £20 “administration fee.”

“The company’s cynicism beggars belief and preys on young people desperate to get a break in a competitive industry,” said NUJ general secretary Michelle Stanistreet.

“The unpaid intern has become the scourge of the media profession — now Newsquest is asking for journalism students to actually pay for a byline.”

Newsquest London schools co-ordinator Diana Jarvis described the scheme as “an exciting and unique chance to experience working for a local paper.”

But the NUJ warned the dodgy scheme was symptomatic of a much wider problem.

As reported in the Star, Newsquest sacked professional subeditors on its newspapers across the country last year and moved the jobs to a central hub in Newport. Ms Stanistreet said that students were now filling in on subediting shifts in the Welsh city.

And as for cutting the cost of creating content, she said that newspaper groups were being quite open about increasing the amount of free copy and reader photos they use.

“College lecturers tell me they are outraged and they are quite right to be,” she said.

“Where is the integrity in this? Where is the commitment to quality journalism? They should be providing journalism students with a meaningful work experience and if their articles are good enough to be published, they are good enough to be paid for.”

At least 5,000 regional journalists’ jobs have been axed in the last decade, many by publishers Newsquest, Trinity Mirror and Johnston Press, and 150 regional newspapers have closed since 2011.

The 2008 economic crisis saw advertising revenues plummet. In addition newspaper circulations dived as the internet became the source of news for many people.