17th December 2012
A couple of weeks ago I was at the lovely Olympics Ball – a fantastic event designed to raise money to support British athletes over the coming years.
There was a silent auction with many impressive lots – an experience here, a dinner there.
But it was lots 75, 76 and 77 that stood out , all with starting bids of £1000.
Each were for a week’s work experience at three different publications.
The first was a week at the New Statesman.
“You will have the chance to contribute your ideas and writing to their hugely popular website,” it promised, adding: “Travel not included.”
Lot 76, a week with FHM. The lucky bidder (or rather, the lucky bidder’s son or daughter, you’d presume) is able to shadow another member of staff and do research.
But it was lot 77 that was arguably the most depressing. £1000 for a week’s experience in sports journalism – with the Cambridge News. The paper will “endeavour to enable the budding writer to attend a live match with one of our journalists to watch how the paper covers sport as it happens”.
That live match would likely be at Cambridge United, a struggling non-league team (I’m allowed to say that – I’ve supported the desperate sods for more than 10 years).
It isn’t the first time opportunities like these have been offered in exchange for cash. But what strikes me here is the type of publications willing to take part.
“Work experience aids success,” wrote a New Statesman editorial back in April.
It made reference to an Ofsted survey of apprenticeships and placements that concluded “employers surveyed said that the number of students they could accommodate on placements was restricted”.
I asked the New Statesman about the placement and was assured that the winning bidder wouldn’t be replacing a non-paying placement position. It would be an additional role.
But cash-for-contacts skews an already elite-heavy industry even further, and it makes me deeply uncomfortable.
Jobs openings in journalism are depressingly finite – and for each person who gets a nose-in thanks to the depth of their family’s pockets, a good, poorer journalist loses out.
If the New Statesman, FHM or Cambridge News wanted to help the British Olympic Association, they should have offered a gesture that wasn’t of harm to the industry.
(And if you’re a student journalist desperate to spend time with the press at Cambridge United, I’d suggest simply asking the club – they’re very accommodating.)
Update: Apparently the FHM placement went for £3,000.
Another update: Those kind (ahem) folks over at Media Guido are giving this the proper treatment. They quote Intern Aware as saying: “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.”
19th July 2012
I feel for them, I really do. Stock photographers, I mean. We turn to them whenever we can’t get real pictures … and so often we rely on those poor creative minds to come up with ways to illustrate the unillustratable.
Anyway, while searching around for a picture to go with a story about a recently shut down botnet, I was inspired to collect a few of the most absurd examples out there – for no reason other than because I can. Enjoy.
(some people telling me they can’t see these images… while others say there’s not a problem. Life’s too short – if they’re not there for you, sorry. Just imagine some freakish looking fellas trying to attack computers. In masks.)
(Looks harmless enough.)
Read Full Post »
20th May 2012
We’ve all had a while to dwell on it: the iPad 3 is a rare low point for Apple.
Back in March, there was a strange mood in the air at Kings Place, the venue for the UK launch.
The message was clear: don’t mention the weight. Seriously. As we were paraded into the demo room, a man just ahead of me picked up the new device and immediately remarked how heavy it was compared to its predecessor.
An attendant, the usual attentive Apple employee, gently took it out of his hands and placed it on the table to demo some of the features. Today “isn’t about comparing” he said.
Later, a Times journalist tweeted how when he’d taken out his own iPad 2 to actually compare the two, one of Apple’s people actually took the iPad 2 out of his hands, and for a short while, would not give it back. Read Full Post »
27th March 2012
Relaunches are never seen as a positive step. I mean – unless something has failed, it won’t ever need to relaunch. It can just, you know, continue.
Which is why Friends Reunited, once the king of UK social networks, will be on the end of some fairly bad press today; mostly from those who’ll say “PAH! Facebook blew you out of the water”, and leave their analysis essentially at that.
But let’s take a closer look at Friends Reunited have done with their relaunch attempt. (My report is here)
They’ve teamed up with the Press Association the country’s biggest archive of images. Not only this, but they’ve also got the British Library on board, providing the country’s biggest archive of, er, anything.
Where Facebook’s entry for you being born is right now a blue box simply saying ‘born’ – Friends Reunited can offer a host of content from that day: newspaper cuttings, iconic images and soon, they hope, material items.
What car did your dad drive you home in after you were born? Add it. What was on TV that day? Add it. You get the picture (you can probably add that too…).
Friends Reunited’s biggest problem first time round was one of impatience. Had it waited, like Facebook, for the technology to catch up with it – they too could have offered targeted advertising.
As it happened – it was only Mark Zuckerburg’s stubbornness which prevented Facebook from entering its own paid subscription-powered early grave.
The sense I got from talking to Friends Reunited’s new owner Chris van der Kuyl was one of of cautious excitement. He believes they’re onto something pretty good which can be monetised in the future – but only when the time is right.
But of course, the internet – and social media in particular – is an industry built on this painful concept of ‘buzz’. Friends Reunited right now has publicity, but whether or not that will turn to buzz is an entirely different question.
That siad, I do feel this is one to watch – even if you do feel completely out of touch by admitting it.