Are you The F-Word’s next features editor?

// 4 August 2012

typewriter.jpg

The F-Word is looking for two volunteers take on and transform our features section.

Applicants should be based in the UK. The current editorial team and collective are still majority white, middle class, and benefit from various other types of privilege, and I want to particularly encourage applications from all backgrounds, particularly those not so well represented at the moment.

I’m looking to appoint two features editors to join our team of section editors.

What the roles will involve:

  • taking on responsibility for the features section
  • sourcing ideas for features and interviews
  • commissioning features, encouraging new voices from a range of backgrounds and diverse perspectives
  • dealing with the features that come in through the submissions pile
  • editing features (prior experience as an editor/subeditor/proofreader will be a distinct advantage, particularly experience of working with a set style guide)
  • posting features (familiarity with blogging platforms is an advantage here, as is at least basic HTML)
  • moderating comments on the features
  • promoting features
  • working in a team with the other features editor, and with the art editor
  • working with me (the editor of The F-Word), the other section editors and The F-Word blog collective where necessary

You must be:

  • enthusiastic about this role and the opportunities to develop The F-Word’s features section. It is a volunteer position, so some time, energy and regular internet access is required
  • ideally have some editing experience, as you will be working with submissions from an extremely broad range of contributors: some who have never written for publication before, while others are experienced journalists. Submissions need to be given a critical edit, making sensitive suggestions to the author and offering some guidance where needed. Submissions must also be edited in line with our style guide, so some experience in working with a house style is an advantage.

To apply: please email me (jess.mccabe@thefword.org.uk) with a brief message setting out: why you want to take on the role and any prior experience. Please also briefly explain how you would like to see The F-Word’s features section develop.

I am also asking for two references: section editors need to have access to and maintain our database of contributors, which includes sensitive information such as the full names and addresses. For that reason, this additional step is needed for those who are going to be dealing with this confidential data (particularly for those writing about sensitive issues under pseudonyms). Please include the contact details of two references – feel free to email me if you have questions on who would be a suitable reference, this doesn’t necessarily have to be a work-type reference.

The deadline for applications is 3 September.

Photo of typewriter keys by geoftheref, shared on Flickr under a Creative Commons license

Comments From You

Eden // Posted 6 August 2012 at 11:33 pm

Hi

I really admire the work of The F Word, but as a recent graduate looking for this kind of experience, it really stuck out to me that you specifically highlight that “The current editorial team and collective are still majority white, middle class, and benefit from various other types of privilege, and I want to particularly encourage applications from all backgrounds, particularly those not so well represented at the moment”, and yet you are nonetheless looking for “volunteers”, ie. unpaid interns.

The workforce of every professional organisation would be much more diverse if you did not limit the intake to young people who can afford to work for free. I don’t think I need to outline the huge harm done to equality of opportunity in this socially divided country by unpaid internships. Not only that, but the culture of exploitation of labour they encourage has spread throughout society, with young people now expected to foot the bill not only for their entire education, but also for their work experience. How is a working-class graduate whose family cannot support them meant to start a career when it seems that weeks or even months of unpaid work is necessary experience to even hope to gain a paid post? It’s intrinsically unfair as well as being a huge reason the workforce of The F Word, like so many professional organisations, remains dominated by (in your words) the white middle classes.

If the budget simply does not allow for a salary paid to the section editors, then I think you should at least be honest with yourselves that a large part of the lack of diversity to your workforce comes down to basic economics. Any progressive organisation should be avoiding the use of unpaid interns to as large an extent as possible, and unfortunately “encouraging” applications from working-class and/or minority ethnic candidates is not going to have much effect when in practical terms you are limiting this opportunity to people who can afford to work for free – one of the biggest privileges imaginable when seeking a graduate position.

I don’t mean to write in bad faith, as I am sure your desire to diversify your workforce is sincere. It just struck me as ironic that yet another organisation seeking unpaid interns is at the same time bemoaning its lack of diversity.

I do hope you will take my comments into account

Yours sincerely

Eden Kulig.

Jess McCabe // Posted 7 August 2012 at 12:00 am

@Eden I wish we could pay. However, I should clarify that absolutely no-one received any payment from the work they do on The F-Word, including all the editorial team. We simply don’t have the income for it.

I’ve been editing the site on that same unpaid basis since 2007 on that basis, and the rewards have been great – but not monetary!

This is categorically not an internship, where someone is getting unpaid experience working where others are in paid jobs, but instead it’s a permanent volunteer role. Everyone who works on the site has other commitments, and supports themselves in other ways. The site has since its founding always been run only by volunteers.

However, I think it would be a cop out to say that it’s impossible to attract a more diverse editorial team because of not paying – as plenty of volunteer-run sites and organisations do this fine. And plenty of actual workplaces do terribly.

sianmarie // Posted 7 August 2012 at 12:39 pm

Gah! just left a comment, lost it.

Anyway, i wanted to weigh in with my tuppence worth because i think it is really important to emphasise the difference between volunteers and unpaid internships. As Jess says, the F word is run entirely by volunteers and sometimes people like me will write a feature or a review for free because an issue or idea interests them. It isn’t that some of the site is staffed and salaried. It’s about people giving up their time and talents as volunteers.

In general, the feminist movement is terribly underfunded, from activist groups to VAWG support services. It is fundamentally run by women and men who give up their time and energy because they passionately believe in the women’s liberation movement. I co-run one of the biggest feminist networks in the UK and we are often asked about internships and job opps. There are none because we are all volunteers – we give up our lunch breaks, evenings, weekends, annual leave days from our paid jobs to the feminist movement. We don’t have any money, all we have is spare time and energy.

I would love to see the feminist movement properly funded, with people paid for the endless work they do to create real change. But we’re not there. Until that happens, we need to celebrate the work we do as volunteers because unfortunately without that amazing passion and resource, things like the F Word wouldn’t exist.

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