Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Inky's new twist on internships - pay us

Jean Folkerts, dean of that "other" Carolina journalism school, relates how she got a call from the Philly Inquirer: We can't afford to pay interns, she says she was told, but if you pay us, we'll gladly take some on.

Union rules apparently do not allow credit-only internships.

While I know it will be very tempting for Philly-area schools to participate -- after all, this is the hometown paper and the 800-pound gorilla -- I hope the schools unite to reject the idea.

Yes, we all understand how bad the business is. But this is just more evidence of how the newspaper industry has not and continues, in some quarters, not to get it. This is your future; if you are not going to do R&D, you can at least figure out a way to invest in your future. That is, unless you've decided you don't have a future.

And if the union is as short-sighted as the paper so as to not figure out a way to give the youg'uns some experience, then it deserves to fade into the sunset too. (And I'm a proud former Guild member.)

On the other hand, Mike Riggs of the Washington City Paper says it's the j-schools' fault for continuing their print components and "vamping" their multimedia (can't disagree about the "vamping." There are real tensions in the academy. When Online Journalism Review shut down, Robert Niles said one of the reasons was that the school didn't think it could bring anyone on who knew new media who could get tenure, and a friend tells me that a faculty member at a major Southwestern university whose specialty was researching blogging was also recently denied tenure).

Riggs says j-schools should raise scholarships (Yeah, we'll do that, Mike. Who in the industry do you propose we ask?) or build it into tuition (and you think people already complain about the cost).

However, Erin Schultz, in a comment to Folkerts' post, makes the point that if colleges are going to charge credit-hour tuition rates for internship credit, then some of the vigorish should probably go to the student (or maybe the paper for its "support" role, which is far greater than the school's in those cases). Can't say I disagree there.

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