Archive for December, 2009

Being on winter break, I’ve had more time to patrol the Twittersphere than I do during the academic year. In the past day or so, I’ve noticed more tweets about unpaid internships and the dis/advantages thereof.

Earlier, @greglinch tweeted a link to a Christian Science Monitor opinion piece asking, “What if interns went on strike?” The author argues that hard-working interns are often not guaranteed or even tempted with employment with a company, despite their value in the workplace:

Interns are valuable. And as part of the workforce, they are expected to do many of the same tasks that professionals do (along with the menial jobs that no one cares to do).
Many people have, at some point in their lives, worked without pay. Some start businesses, others devote time to charities or nonprofits, and still more apprentice in lucrative mechanical fields. I am all for entrepreneurs, mechanics, and bleeding hearts.
However, conceiving of the unpaid internship as a means to secure paying jobs is as archaic as the corporate ladder model of employment itself. We no longer live in a society where hard work at one company ensures that we will someday reach the zenith of the American dream.

Greg also tweeted a link to a blog post with an internship opportunity offer from famed war photojournalist James Nachtwey‘s studio. Like so many other journalism internships out there, Nachtwey’s offer is unpaid. Unlike so many other journalism internships out there, Nachtwey is ultra-specific about what entry skills he wants his eventual intern to have. These include proficiency with particular scanning equipment and certain Photoshop tasks.

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with setting a high standard for an incoming intern — but for those kinds of higher-end technical skills and know-how? For no pay? For at least three days a week for three months? In New York City?

Nachtwey is out of his mind.

But let’s back up and examine the general idea of unpaid internships altogether.

Many larger workplaces — such as big-name newspapers/magazines, law firms and more — don’t pay their interns for a variety of reasons. In many (or, I hope, in most) cases, these workplaces simply don’t have the budget for paid internships but still want to extend an offer so young people interested in that industry can still get good experience. In other cases, some workplaces justify not paying their interns by asserting that the internship experience is so valuable that the experience itself is payment.


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It’s finals week at many universities and colleges, including Missouri. Because I’m not entirely engrossed in scouring the on-line Oxford English Dictionary for my History of the English Language take-home exam, I’ve taken inspiration from an old 10,000 Words post and am instead announcing my journalism-minded goals and plans for this winter break.

(For those of you not familiar with the 10,000 Words blog — it’s a great resource for journalists/journalism students where blogger Mark S. Luckie provides tutorials, pontificates on relevant issues/questions in the industry and frequently refers to other examples of good journalism and/or branding.)

Without further ado, here’s what this journalism senior is doing over winter break:

  1. Revamping my Web site, especially the setup and some CSS. I’ll be changing some things around in my photo portfolio section and adding my written reporting clips. And nope, I’m not going to link to it now — once it’s more complete, I’ll post the URL and invite everyone and anyone to provide any feedback/criticism/praise.
  2. Going through the last two months’ photos. Thanks to projects, I haven’t had time to go over my recent Missourian assignments or my just-for-fun photos (Texas Renaissance Festival?). But starting next week, I’ll have time to do that, as well as post them for you to see here.
  3. Continuing/finishing posting New York City summer photos. Okay, so these photos are about four and a half months old now, but I’m still proud of and excited about them. So you can expect to see those soon, too.
  4. Tweaking my photo final projects. For one photo class, I produced an audio slideshow about on-site beer brewing at the Texas Renaissance Festival. For another photo class, I created a two-story package about what happens on a dairy farm after the farmer is killed by lightning. Both these projects are complete and on-line, as of yesterday, but I’m going to clean them up a little more before linking them to my Web site and sharing them with the general public.
  5. Covering the Texas Bowl game for The Missourian. As far as I know, Ivy and I are the only Missourian photo people credentialed to go — and she’s the designated editor, which means she’ll be in the photo workroom for most of the game. Which means I’m the only actual Missourian photographer for the game. Which is a lot of pressure. But hell if I’m not excited.
  6. Start reading The Atlanta Journal-Constitution regularly. If I’m going to be there this summer, I’d best get started on learning about the city and the paper.

Time for me to hit up the Oxford English Dictionary now. But — got any more suggestions for my winter break? I’d love to hear what you think!

(Of course I’ll also be sleeping and eating far more than is healthy for me, but that was already a given.)

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Today, I accepted a summer photo internship at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

And got credentialed to photograph the Texas Bowl on Dec. 31 in Houston.

Today is a good day.

In other news, I’ve been working on various projects for the past few weeks. These include:

  • my final project for Staff Photo (about a brewery at the Texas Renaissance Festival),
  • my final project for Electronic Photojournalism (about a dairy farm) and
  • my portfolio Web site.

These projects are the main reason why I haven’t had much time to continue posting New York City photos and other photography expeditions I’ve recently had. Rest assured, these blog entries will come soon. I’m hoping to unveil my portfolio Web site and share my final projects in the middle of next week, and to pick up the NYC and other photos during winter break.

But in the meantime, I’m thrilled to spend the summer in Atlanta and honored to receive the internship offer. I really can’t wait to work in a larger newsroom and be in a new city. And I’m pumped to photograph the bowl game — I’ve come a long way in my football photography this semester, and I’m excited for the opportunity to cover a big game.

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