Face it Brendan O'Neill, unpaid internships are exploitative
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The debate about whether internships should be paid or not rumbles on. This time writing for Vice, Brendan O’Neill, editor of Spiked magazine, has decided to wade in by telling us that young people to stop whining, stop taking out lawsuits, shut up and get on with working for free. Not only does he ignore that it is against the law to not pay at least minimum wage for labour, he suggests that the reason why those like Alex Footman and Eric Glatt (former interns employed by 20th Century Fox for Black Swan) are suing and others are complaining comes from an ignorant sense of entitlement. Earlier this month, we reported UCL and Birmingham University having to withdraw advertisements for unpaid internships after student outrage. Instead of accepting the current precedent because that’s the way it is and has always been, young people have been contesting it, gaining support from the NUS. However O’Neill’s argument drags us back to the dark ages. To state the obvious, media and the arts are incredibly difficult fields to get into. However this should be dictated by sheer talent and ability, not one’s financial background. Woking unpaid for six months is only feasible for those with parents that can afford to support them during the period. This makes it harder for those from lower class backgrounds to enter such industries, resulting in a lack of diversity. If the media is meant to represent society as a whole then it shouldn’t it be filled with a varied cross section of people from all kinds of backgrounds? Furthermore the so called free media should be just that. Instead it has become elitist, complying with most other sectors of society.
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