Unpaid Internships: The Journalism Industry

For undergraduates studying a full-time load in an Australian institution or university, getting their first job in journalism can take extra toil even with thousand hours of work and study.

“A lot of publishers hiring interns say that at the end of six months, working three days a week, there might be a job for you,” explains Catherine Bouris, the founder of Young Australian Writers. “So they dangle that carrot to give you hope. Yet the truth is they can only hire one person, but heaps of interns, so nine times out of 10 it comes to nothing. The younger, more inexperienced entry-level people get screwed first.”

Isla Williams, a journalism student juggling between part-time work, university and unpaid internship placements, said:

“I’ve heard the internship success story where it got them a job, but they were able to commit to staying late or working five days a week.”

“People who leave at 5pm may not be doing so because they don’t care, but because they’re running late to their next job that starts at six. Those that benefit are the people who can afford it.”

She is one of many undergraduates in the journalism industry who are talented, even – but without a graduate job.

Why is this happening?

The death of many traditional publishers and broadcasters means that there are not enough entry-level jobs in the industry to meet young people’s demand.

This is why media owners now choose to expect recruits with a journalism degree and month/ years of experience of unpaid internships, instead of training them.

Statistics show that 4,800 new students enrolled in a university journalism course during the latest academic year, but only 512 journalism graduates showed only a quarter (26%) landed a job in the industry.  Some 83% of journalists did an internship, of which 92% were unpaid, with an average duration each of seven weeks. A quarter, incredibly, lasted more than 13.

Moreover, of the country’s top journos, more than half were privately educated, compared to just 7% of all pupils.

Is the cost of doing an internship preventing people from lower socio-economic backgrounds from obtaining work as journalists?

How do we ensure the media, the watchdog of the public, has the quality it deserves if the best writers are not given a chance to become broadcasters, reporters or writers in Australia? 

For more blogs relating to the journalism industry the challenges to maintain quality media and provide a diversity of voices, check out Journo-pocalypse Now.

With Care,



Mumbrella 2018, Journalism is becoming a profession for only the rich – so why won’t anyone talk about it?,




Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s