NY Times offers unpaid internships after reporting on their questionable legality

The New York Times

After Times staff tweeted about about the upcoming deadline for its unpaid social media internship, Pamela Drew responded, "Shame on NYTimes & every deep pocket corporation looking for UNPAID interns, experience shouldn't be free labor." Justin Kiggins asked, "Didn't the NYT have a piece on ethics of unpaid internships?" and linked to an April 2010 story.

That story describes concerns about the rising number of unpaid internships in the U.S., some of which may be illegal uses of free labor. Most of the examples involve students who ended up doing low-end work that contributed little, if anything, to their education. That doesn't seem to be the case with the Times internships. However, federal regulations also state that an employer "derives no immediate advantage" from the work of unpaid trainees; it's hard to see how the Times and other news outlets don't gain something from interns' stories and tweets.

Times Social Media Editor Liz Heron responded to criticism:

 "The student gets credit for taking a class, which counts toward graduation, and it's only a few hours a week." A few descriptions for Times internships, including its summer internship, state that they are paid; others don't specify. "Unpaid internships, of course, are not uncommon in the news business; WYNC's "On the Media," for instance, is seeking applicants for one now. || Earlier: Would You Pay Five Grand to Work at Huffpo? (Forbes) || Related: The "classy" farewell letter from a laid-off Times newspaper carrier | Jill Abramson doesn't attend the afternoon meeting where Page One decisions are finalized (New York magazine)

  • Steve Myers

    Steve Myers was the managing editor of Poynter.org until August 2012, when he became the deputy managing editor and senior staff writer for The Lens, a nonprofit investigative news site in New Orleans.


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