Getting a job in journalism can be really hard, especially when you’re expected to do internships and work placements. Most of them are either unpaid or really badly paid, and the best and most competitive ones are in London – a famously expensive city.
The Sutton Trust estimates that it costs a young person more than £1,000 to do a month of unpaid work experience in the capital. This prices out talented people from diverse backgrounds who simply can’t afford to get their foot in the door.
Only 11% of journalists come from a working class background. More than half of the country’s top journos went to private schools and 94% of journalists in the UK are white.
This is important. Not only does the situation mean our media is being run by a narrow section of society, which is unfair when there is so much talent out there but crucially, when journalists don't reflect the demographic and economic diversity within their communities, and society at large, we lose their trust. Not a single national paper predicted how Brexit would go and we believe this is one of the reasons why.
PressPad is an award-winning social enterprise that is fighting to lower the financial barrier of entry into journalism. We link young people with work experience in London with experienced journalists who can offer a spare room plus great advice. We also add them to our intern networks so they can learn from each other. It's mentoring, networking and accommodation all rolled into one.
We started PressPad to make internships and work experience more affordable to those living outside of expensive cities – initially London – and from lower socio-economic backgrounds. There are lots of very admirable mentorship schemes for people of colour, women, and those with disabilities but we believe that the true barrier – and one that affects many applicants classed as “diverse” – is financial.
Since we set up the pilot last year, we've already placed 50 interns with senior journalists who have a spare room and we receive new requests every single day. Our interns have an average age of 24 years old and 93% of them are completing an unpaid internship. Their success stories are our biggest achievement: they make everything worth it.
We also have journalist hosts signed up to our platform ranging from editors-in-chief to correspondents, from the Financial Times to the BBC to HELLO! magazine. In fact, we have the capacity to help double the amount of interns, which is where this crowdfunder comes in.
We hear from people all the time who would love to help but don’t have the space available to host an aspiring journalist or those who aren’t journalists but want and expect better from the media.
If you’re as passionate about diversifying the media as we are, this is your chance to get involved. We’re asking you to contribute to our crowdfunder today so we can hire a part-time coordinator to help us match more young people with senior journalists who have a spare room.
We've built an AirBNB style website, which we can't wait to launch but without a coordinator behind it, we won't be able to keep up with demand.
PressPad was founded by BBC journalist Olivia Crellin (Founder, CEO) following her own experience of entering a journalism career from outside London – and after hearing the stories of many others.
After Olivia launched PressPad, Laura Garcia (Co-founder) and Alfie Tobutt came on board. Laura is a Mexican journalist and lecturer living in the UK who remembers having to sleep on friends’ couches while doing her work experience. She now sees the high cost of accommodation preventing some of her best students from less wealthy backgrounds applying for the most competitive internships.
Alfie, a BBC journalist, manages PressPad’s website and social media while Laerke Christensen, a freelance journalist, manages outreach and liaises with ambassadors, interns and hosts. Nicola Slawson, a freelance journalist from a working class background came on board in September to manage our campaigns and events.
"This is a very good idea indeed."
Laura Kuenssberg, BBC's political editor
"Disappointingly, journalism is falling behind other bastions of elitism such as law and banking, which are doing more to redress glaring inequalities. This despite the fact that the skills needed – an eye for a story and tenacity – can be found in any age, race, gender, class or background. This makes innovations like PressPad, which aims to link hosts offering accommodation to wannabe journalists, so important."
Jane Martinson, Guardian columnist
"PressPad provides a practical solution to a problem that distorts our media. Affordable accommodation enables working-class, refugee and less privileged people to get a start as journalists, so newsrooms will be less dominated by the wealthy and well-connected."
Lindsey Hilsum, Channel 4 News international editor
"It can be demoralising to try and ignite a journalism career outside the M25, but PressPad offers a dose of reassurance that it can be possible. A great scheme!"
"PressPad is such an amazing scheme and I feel honoured to be a part of it. It has made me feel like my dreams are achievable and no longer out of reach. I feel like someone is finally on my side."
Read the Frequently Asked Questions on our website. The questions include how Press Pad works, whether interns are safe, what the costs are and what kind of company we are.