Newspapers slashing intern budgets

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.

Author: Danny Sanchez

Danny Sanchez is the Audience Development Manager at Tribune's and Danny has been with Tribune since 2005 in a variety of editorial, digital and product development roles in Hartford, Orlando and Fort Lauderdale. He has also previously worked in the newsrooms of the Tampa Bay Times and The Miami Herald.

2 thoughts on “Newspapers slashing intern budgets”

  1. Many years ago when I was in college, I found it amazing that newspapers traditionally offered more paid internships while TV stations were leading the pack in unpaid internships. I guess it was supply and demand. Sad to see that more newspapers are taking that approach.

    And to expand on Grimm’s comment, there is a huge surge in enrollment in “other” communications majors – pr, ad, viscomm, broadcast, that is probably what he’s seeing. In short, all of these people are not eyeing those prize newspaper jobs, but jobs in the “strategic marketing” field, or other related communications disciplines, where the pay is much better and the hours usually more regular.

  2. It is a shame, since this will likely only result in more unpaid internships for students. Unfortunately, it seems some colleges are more than willing to oblige. Northwestern’s practice of while making them pay tuition and the bill for flights, lodging and other expenses just stirs my blood. While just about every successful grad I know has worked an unpaid internship, Northwestern’s practice reeks of extortion to me. The tuition is apparently because “Teaching Media is considered an off-campus learning experience, supervised jointly by Medill faculty and staff members of the TM locations.” I’m sure that helps the bottom line quite a bit.
    While I was in school, I was always pushed by a particular professor to aggressively seek a paid internship whenever possible, and I’m glad he did. It made me value my work more. Take a stroll through the Poynter message boards, and you’ll see that many students aren’t being taught to value their work. Students frequently make comments about eating Ramen noodles forever to be able to work at a newspaper.

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