Confession time. A certain person posting on this here OC Weekly blog may have, at one point, worked as an intern at the Orange County Register. Hint: A family-friendly publication like the Register would never hire someone with a history of "ALCOHOL and BREAKING THE LAW." Rules out a lot of people, right? So, yeah, it's me.
Why bring this up? Dennis Foley, the Register's "Reader Engagement Editor" (they've got all sorts of voodoo titles over there), wrote a question to "Ask a Recruiter" columnist Joe Grimm at journalism-nerd website Poynter Online. Foley wonders: "Where have all the interns gone?"
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This is my fourth year as an intern program director. In those years, I've had 110, 150 and 125 applicants for summer internships, with at least as many inquiries from students after our deadline.
This time, I've received 85.
I've got the usual seven paid spots, and I'll fill them with quality students, I'm sure. But I am curious about the reasons for the decrease.
Foley and Grimm go on to speculate about how the current economy is affecting applications, which surely is part of it. But my money's on the fact that journalism schools, normal schools, parents, the media, friends, relatives, homeless people and family pets deliver the same message to anyone who says they want to get a job in journalism: "LOL." One glance at LA Observed delivers all the crushing despair any would-be reporter needs. Today, we've got the shuttering of an awesome NPR news program, another looming round of layoffs at the LA Times, and, hilariously, NPR's decision to stop subscribing to the LA Times.
It may seem strange that the Register would be hiring paid interns at the same time it's considering forcing unpaid vacations upon its staffers. But think of it in terms of cheap labor: Interns probably have a similar cost/benefit output as those Indian copy editors.