Charity internship scheme under fire

Publisher Phaidon Press and agency PFD have attracted criticism after agreeing to auction internships for charity for £5,000.

The publisher and literacy agency both agreed to allow charity The Second Half Centre, founded by Jill Shaw Ruddock, to auction a week-long internship to raise money.
The charity supports people over 50.

Internships at Net A Porter, ISSA Fashion House and Man Group were also offered, with potential bidders told: “These are incredible opportunities for your children, nephews, nieces and godchildren to learn the best in different and exciting industries, while supporting a great local community charity.”

However, the move has been criticised by some as undemocratic. Andrew Franklin, m.d. of Profile Books labelled the step “disgusting”. He said: “Internships should not be the privilege of the rich. I don’t think we should be sending this message out about the already elitist London publishing industry. It is a really perverse thing for a charity to do.”

Another publisher, who declined to be named, said she was shocked by the auctioning of internships.  “In my experience internships may not be paid, but they are certainly not ‘for sale’ no matter how worthy the attached charitable cause,” she said. “It leaves such a bitter taste in the mouth and it doesn’t set the kind of precedent I think our industry should be setting.  Internships are something I think the publishing industry needs to address.”

PFD c.e.o. Caroline Michel, who agents Ruddock’s book The Second Half of Your Life (Vermilion), said the agency took interns throughout the year, who were usually selected after completing an online application form and interview. Interns are paid £200 a week, which would also apply to the charity fundraising scheme.

“We absolutely believe in teaching people the business and supporting them in the area of work they want to get into,” she said.

A spokesperson for Phaidon Press said: “Phaidon welcomes applications for internships, and they are great opportunities for students to apply for as part of their course.”

Ruddock declined to comment.