Unpaid: a culture of talent exploitation
By Guy Lambert - posted . See all Guy Lambert's articles
Guy Lambert says that, by advertising for unpaid work, some media companies are exploiting the hopes and dreams of aspiring presenters for the benefit of their shareholders.
The media industry is often viewed by the public as being ‘different’ to others: there is a perception that it is glamorous, well-paid and therefore somehow set apart from other industries. For those of us working in it we know that this is untrue: a runner may well get to mingle with a celebrity or two, but he or she may well end up working hours equivalent to a Junior Doctor. Of course we’re not saving lives, but we are all doing a job for the same reason everyone else works: to pay our bills, raise our children, and have food on our tables. In employment law, we all stand equal.
It is therefore completely unacceptable that a number of profit-making commercial companies still feel they have the right to create unpaid jobs. It is important to be clear that this is different than work experience: I am referring to roles that are long-term jobs, filled by people at the expense of those who seek a living from their skills. Rather than creating employment, it is creating a culture of talent exploitation based on the promise of future gain, but with no present reward. In fact, it is creating a culture of unemployment.
As someone who champions aspiring presenters, it is my concern that some companies are exploiting these people’s hopes and dreams for the benefit of their shareholders. While it may be true that some companies are run at a loss, it does not give them the right to hire unpaid staff purely because their business model is flawed. Moreover, it does not give them the right to pay their managers, engineers and cleaners, but not pay their presenters.
I am sure you will agree that this kind of activity is not only immoral, but as a responsible advertiser you will know that it is also illegal. I refer you to this excellent summary of the situation from theunitlist.com.
In my opinion, we all need to reaffirm our commitment by continuing to refuse to advertise these roles. We need to tell our subscribers, Twitter followers, and Facebook fans that we will not be a conduit through which people are exploited for the benefit of other people’s profit, however ‘generous’ the offer of experience may at first appear.
It is important that we stand together on this, and I thank you for your hard work in ensuring we protect the people in our industry. If you would like to make a statement about your own policy on this matter, I would be very happy to bring it to people’s attention.
Media UK does not publish advertisements for unpaid jobs for any commercial company. read our policy
Guy has worked in television since 1997, and has produced magazine, entertainment and children's programmes for broadcasters including Sky, Nickelodeon, Disney and the BBC. He offers TV presenting advice for aspiring presenters.
E-mail Guy Lambert | Visit Guy Lambert's website
I’m not trying to be smart, but did you pay Guy for that article, James?
Michael – we didn’t, no: we asked Guy whether we could reprint a post he’d already made on his Posterous account. The total amount of work that Guy has done here is respond to the tweet we sent him, saying “hey, yes, absolutely, that would be great”.
Absolutely. I had already written it for my blog and James has reprinted it. Had James commissioned me to write it, that would’ve been a different matter.