Friday, October 29, 2010

"Come and run this magazine for nothing"

Time was that unpaid editorial internships were justified (unreasonably) by publishing companies on the basis that these weren't jobs, but an extension of a student's learning. However a friend points out that an internship posting on the Masthead job board by Totem, the custom media company, takes this to a whole new level. In return for bus fare, the sweeping job description for an "editorial assistant intern" says, in part:
The role of the Editorial Assistant Intern is to help in the writing, fact-checking, proofreading, and running of the magazine, to ensure the magazine is produced to schedule and to maintain the high quality of the publication. In addition, they [sic] will contribute to both the style and content of the magazine and assist in administrative processes.



Anonymous Jenelle said...

I am pretty sure I saw a similar position posted on the Totem website as a paid editorial assistant position. Later on "intern" seemed to be slotted into the title of the same position, and it's now unpaid.

There was some discussion on the Media Bistro forums about how regular, salaried positions are being "converted" into internships as a way to cut costs.

I cannot fathom how it's acceptable for some media companies to ask for full-time volunteers, especially when the "intern" responsibilities are that of a regular hired employee. As for paying real interns, larger companies could probably afford a measly monthly stipend if some rebudgeting was done.

2:11 pm  
Anonymous Jess Ross said...

I just couldn't put an intern in charge of critical work. It's not fair to the individual, who could see terrible career consequences if they make big mistakes, and having newbies do key jobs certainly puts the business at risk.

I hope that the supply side - the interns - help control internship offers that include inappropriate levels of responsibility by simply not applying.

2:03 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


The issue (as intoned by DB's title "Come and run this [Transcontinental] magazine for nothing") isn't an 'inappropriate level of responsibility.' It's the exploitation of a younger workforce for free labour.

Just wanted to clear that up.

5:28 am  
Blogger D. B. Scott said...

To be clear: it was not a Transcontinental magazine. It was Totem -- the former Redwood Custom Communications -- which is owned by Transcontinental. A subtle but important distinction.

10:50 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's a shame that the editors who are using interns in exchange for nothing aren't subject to "terrible career consequences." But I guess it's easier to blame the victim, and less harmful to one's career prospects in the long run.

4:03 pm  

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