Sean's Technology and Writing Blog

How much will people pay for journalism work experience?

17 December 2009


The Evening Standard carried out an auction of unique experiences in aid of a children's charity, with the winning bids reported in yesterday's paper. What surprised me is how much people are willing to bid to have a taste of work as a writer, photographer or other media professional. Below are the media-related bids (in bold), together with a selection of other bids to give you an idea of how they compare.

  • £14,600 - Dinner for 12 cooked by Gordon Ramsay (highest bid for any lot)
  • £14,000 - A day with Richard Branson
  • £8,100 - Two tickets for the 2010 final of Strictly Come Dancing
  • £7,153 - A week on the Evening Standard's "fast-paced, hectic" newsdesk
  • £5,600 - Tea with Elton John
  • £5,450 - A two-week internship at Island Records, mentored by Duncan Beese who signed Amy Winehouse
  • £5,300 - Dinner with the Evening Standard's editor at his favourite Notting Hill restaurant
  • £3,958 - A two-hour art class with Tracey Emin
  • £3,600 - Dance lesson with Anton du Beke
  • £3,115 - Afternoon tea with TV and radio presenter Claudia Winkleman
  • £3,100 - Artworks by Gilbert and George
  • £2,801 - Take part in a Vogue fashion photo shoot (not clear whether this is as a model or helping to shoot it)
  • £2,550 - A week's work experience on ES magazine
  • £2,550 - Mentoring with James Caan from Dragon's Den
  • £2,070 - Join BBC Five Live in the media centre at Lord's for the Test against Bangladesh
  • £1,982 - Caroline Michel, boss of literary agency PFD, will critique your manuscript and give you guidance on publishing
  • £1,470 - Two guests have "unprecedented access" to the Match of the Day studio
  • £1,200 - A springtime stroll around the park with Bob Geldof
  • £1,100 - Four people chauffeured to work by Rowan Atkinson in a Rolls Royce

Is it becoming that difficult to break into media that people are willing to pay £1,430 per day to work on the Evening Standard's news desk? Is it so hard to get the attention of an agent that somebody would rather pay £1,982 than go the long way around? Will work experience in the media deliver a better return on investment than artworks by Gilbert & George?

Of course, people don't really think like that. If they want something, they bid what they can afford to try to win it. They don't compare the lots. But I'm surprised that mentoring from James Caan (which I can see really helping a lot of businesses to reinvent themselves) is considered less valuable than a week's work experience on the ES Magazine. I'm surprised that dinner with a newspaper editor is more highly prized than time with Bob Geldof, Sebastian Coe, Jonathan Ross, Sophie Dahl, the Duchess of York, Stephen Fry and the QI team, footballer Harry Redknapp, director Guy Ritchie, Graham Norton and artist Anish Kapoor (who all featured in lower ranking bids).

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