The Guardian is under pressure from many of the big wigs in the news industry after the Press Gazette published an article which mocked the its Summer School, which costs a staggering £599 for 16 to 19-year-olds to attend. The fact that the Guardian charges aspiring journos to experience the work in such a great organisation was worsened after the comparison to News UK's Summer School (the publisher of the Sun and Times) arose, whose Summer School is completely free, with food and accommodation paid for. The revelation has prompted many to take to social media to point out the outrageous price tag, which will, as the Press Gazette pointed out: that the Guardian Summer School would be full of youngsters with "well-off parents who live in London or the Home Counties."
The fee itself is undoubtedly wrong and restricts some of the best writers, who are not as affluent as others, to be segregated from the opportunity to experience the day-to-day workings of a national newspaper. Nevertheless, it is right that the Guardian offers the Summer School like the News Academy. However, the problem of accessibility has been pointed out by people from different organisations on twitter. Toby Young, Associate Editor at The Spectator wrote "Is the Guardian sixth form summer school restricted to applicants from fee-paying schools?" And surely, what Mr Young says is true?! The Guardian have found themselves in hot water with young people, who are more likely to choose the more open and free News Academy Summer School - which offers 16 to 18-year-olds the chance to spend a week at the state-of-the-art HQ's of The Times, The Sunday Times and The Sun.
As one would expect, the team at News UK were delighted to be seen as the organisation which offered the more inclusive Summer School, with the Head of PR at The Sun, Dylan Sharpe, commenting on social media: "the guardian's shows its commitment to diversity in media with a £599 summer school (@NewsUK equivalent is free...)"
Hopeful journalists that want to experience a summer school of these sorts will inevitably be disappointed. The News Academy Summer School only accepts 15 applicants, limiting unsuccessful applicants to nothing due to fees like we have seen with the Guardian or no opportunities at all. It is time for the media to be inclusive not only to poorer youngsters, but to youngsters as a whole. What News UK have done is highly commendable - welcoming young people into an organisation which have had tremendous influence on how current affairs are delivered and continue to do so. The free Summer School is something that the Guardian should note, as well as encouraging other big outlets in the industry to consider. In addition, News UK also hosts national conferences, school visits and numerous other activities for young people. The debacle of the Guardian's outrageous fee aside, News UK are a class above the rest in regards to opening doors to young people from different backgrounds, while others have shut the door on the less fortunate individuals.
Even writing for the Huffington Post is something that the industry should take note of. It is a great way to voice concerns through the 'Young Voices' section, which isn't available on many newspaper websites! The Guardian will be deeply embarrassed by the Press Gazette's headline, and the possible bad press that will follow. More importantly, young people will be angered by this economic discrimination produced by the Guardian's Summer School fee. On the whole, News UK continues to lead the way for young people in media, while the rest of the industry seems to have turned its back.