Romenesko Misc | Maynard Institute
The Associated Press says it will decide this month whether to drop its internship program. (Interns are paid at the rate of an entry level employee.) The Society of Professional Journalists is urging the AP to look elsewhere for desired budget cuts. "Experience has shown internship programs are essential investments in helping identify and train top talent for future roles in our business," says SPJ president Hagit Limor.

Press release

SPJ president urges AP to continue internship programs

INDIANAPOLIS – The Society of Professional Journalists’ national president is urging The Associated Press to do all in its power to maintain its prestigious paid internship program as it looks for ways to make significant cuts in its operating budget.

AP officials last week confirmed they were considering dropping their internship program as part of an overall restructuring AP chief executive officer Tom Curley called a “business transformation.” A final decision is expected this month.

“Too often in recent years, we have seen news organizations slash their talent development programs as they move to cut costs," said SPJ President Hagit Limor, a Cincinnati-based TV investigative reporter. "This may prove to be a short-sighted approach to charting the future of a company or industry, as experience has shown internship programs are essential investments in helping identify and train top talent for future roles in our business.”

Industry wide, internship programs have played a major role in the past 40 years to help news organizations find future talent, particularly among women and minorities. The AP internship program, started in 1984, has trained more than 350 aspiring journalists. Many of these interns now cover the White House, Capitol Hill, state houses and work in AP bureaus and other newsrooms across the country and around the globe.

The internship program started out as an opportunity for minorities and later expanded to be all inclusive. AP interns are paid at the rate of an entry level employee. An AP internship is considered a prized work experience by potential employers, based on the news service’s reputation for high standards, quality and accuracy. Last summer it trained more than 20 interns, mostly college students or recent graduates, for work in our industry.

“The Society of Professional Journalists puts its money where its mouth is, with our own paid internships to develop talent and interest in the Society as well as journalism in general,” Limor said.

“I fully understand the need for news organizations to cut costs and be frugal during this slow economic recovery,” Limor said. “By the same token, executives at The AP can move to secure our future by embracing their paid internship program for its long term value to us all by looking elsewhere for their desired budget cuts.”