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29 August 2012

Elle’s “interns“ edition highlights some problems

To intern or not to intern?

By Dominic Ponsford

AS Elle brings out an October edition produced with the help of ten interns – Times  journalist Laura Craik speaks up in favour of internships in the paper today (£).

She reports that some 400 applied in the first week for the chance to produce the special interns’  edition of Elle.

But while those positions at Elle were paid, most internships are not.

Personally, I think lengthy unpaid internships are not only unethical but illegal and continue to promote a situation where the elite few who can afford to work for nothing have an unfair advantage when it comes to getting a start in journalism. Industry best-practice remains offering two-week unpaid work experience placements and paying at least minimum wage for anything longer.

But Craik says that in the fashion industry particularly (and presumably fashion magazines) internships remain the best way to kick start your career.

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Her top tip when applying for an internship is to send three editorial ideas tailored to the publication. It helped her get a start at The Face, where she ended up working for four years.

Elle editor Lorraine Candy tells The Times that she got her first internship on the Cornish Times at 15 because, without being asked, she covered the centenary of a summer fair and took her own photos. She ended up staying on at the paper instead of taking her A-Levels.

Editor-in-chief of Mr Porter Jeremy Langmead reveals that he did a year of interning at Cosmopolitan, The Daily Telegraph and British Vogue at the start of his caree and admits that he was caught making-up caption information that he couldn’t find.

My top tip for anyone doing an internship is to turn up with a working voice recorder and a telephone mic (such as this one) for recording your phone-calls. Because if you don’t have shorthand, you’ll find it impossible to do any interview-based journalism without this gear.

This article first appeared in Press Gazette.

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