Code of conduct to tackle ‘slave labour’ mentality in publishing

Publishing
companies are being urged to sign up to a code of conduct being developed to protect
trainee journalists from widespread ‘slave labour’ practices.

Lindsay
Nicholson, chairman of the Editorial Training Committee – part of the
Periodicals Training Council (PTC) – said the magazine industry could no longer
afford to employ trainees and work experience students on little or no pay
simply to shore up staff numbers.

She
said that if the practice continued, magazines would soon find themselves faced
with the ‘Selina syndrome’ – staffed only by journalists from an upper middle
class background because their parents could afford to keep them when they had
no income for months on end.

Nicholson
was addressing industry delegates in London at the PTC’s New Journalist of the
Year Awards.

Nicholson,
also editor-in-chief of Good Housekeeping magazine, said trainee journalists
had a tough time.

Years
ago, they would be paid a modest salary while gaining experience on the job. As
magazines have increasingly faced severe competition and declining revenues in
an overcrowded UK marketplace, trainees often have been asked to work for
nothing in the name of work experience.

“The
PTC will have no truck with these illegal practices,” Nicholson said.      

By
Penny Wilson

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