Woe to the wide-eyed college senior who dreams of scoring that big, paid career-making internship. In these troubled times, newspapers are seriously slashing their budget for paid interns, according to a detailed report from Leann Frola, a Naughton fellow with the Poynter Institute.
Frola interviewed some of the top dogs at many newspapers, including the Los Angeles Times, Boston Globe, Oregonian and Star-Tribune, so the article is detailed and very much worth a read.
I remember how saddened I felt when, some time ago, I saw the Oregonian‘s Web message declaring that they were no longer budgeting for interns. Not that I had my heart set on that particular paper, but it was still unfortunate to see. However, it appears to be getting worse, Frola writes:
Faced with tighter budgets, many newspapers are offering fewer internships this year than last. Interviews with 23 people including editors, recruiters, executives, news directors, career service directors and students indicate this year’s applicants have entered one of the most challenging intern markets in recent memory.
In another red flag for the college crowd, internship guru Joe Grimm of the Detroit Free-Press had this to say in the report:
Joe Grimm, who also writes Poynter’s Ask the Recruiter column, said he’s noticed a paradox with the recent cuts. At a time when it’s “harder than ever to hire or place good people,” enrollment seems to be up at communications programs, he wrote in an e-mail. “This seems to me to be a tough time for big media companies,” he said, “but a time of rapid growth for journalism.”
Translation: More wannabes, less openings. If you’re a college student, you will need an edge more than ever. Getting those Web skills might just help you do it, but you’ll still need to have a solid traditional news foundation.