By Waithera Junghae
Interns starting out on their career in journalism face harassment and bullying the industry’s biggest union has told London Journalism Centre.
A spokesperson for the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) claimed that bullying interns is common in newsrooms. “I think that internships are a large scourge of the creative industries,” she said. “Young people put an awful lot of pressure on themselves, and because it is seen as a glamorous and competitive industry, people think they can treat people badly.”
The problem is not confined to national media.
“I think in local papers one thing that came out is there is an awful lot of bullying because the union is not allowed to be there,” the NUJ spokesperson added.
The NUJ had told the Leveson Inquiry about “shocking behaviour” in the industry,including a female reporter-who had already been taunted about her weight in the newsroom-being made to wear a meat outfit for a Lady Gaga story. Last year, the NUJ slammed the Sun for asking a 21 year old doing work experience to strip off and pose with a member of staff for mocked-up pictures of Prince Harry.
Chris Hares, Campaigns Manager for Intern Aware, told London Journalism Centre: “It is very disappointing that interns are still not always treated as well as other employees, including not being paid, in some sections of the creative industries.
According to Hares, 82 per cent of new entrants to journalism have done an internship, of which 92 per cent are unpaid.
“This is really unfair on those that cannot afford to work for free,” he said.
Hares commended organisations like Creative Society and RIBA for setting a great example by ensuring that their members are paying and supporting interns.
A recent study commissioned by the Federation of Entertainment Unions, which revealed that bullying was widespread in the creative industries, found that younger staff were especially vulnerable. Over half of those aged between 16 and 30 had experienced harassment in the workplace.
More than fifty per cent of the 4,000 who took part in the study said they had been bullied at work. All respondents in local newspapers reported being harassed or discriminated at work. The survey also found that women were more vulnerable than men, with 64 per cent of women experiencing ill-treatment compared to 49 per cent of men.