Richard Prince's Journal-isms™

Who Should Pay Cost of Internships?

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Sunday, October 12, 2008

During his summer internship at the Philadelphia Inquirer, Ashwin Verghese added a video component to his August story about a community garden created over a formerly dangerous abandoned lot.

Cash-Strapped Newspapers Ask Schools to Kick In

Jean FolkertsThe dean's blog item read pretty definitively. And she was not happy. "I had a call from the Philadelphia Inquirer a few days ago announcing a change in its internship," began Jean Folkerts, dean of the University of North Carolina School of Journalism and Mass Communications.

"No longer will interns compete for 12 coveted paid internships on the Inquirer. Instead, the Inquirer has decided it can no longer afford to pay interns -- but union contracts also don't allow the newspaper to let interns work without being paid.

"The Inquirer now is asking journalism schools to pay the newspaper a stipend to support the internships. Each school that agrees to do so will have one guaranteed internship."

Folkerts denounced the policy and declared, "UNC's School of Journalism and Mass Communication won't be participating in the Inquirer's program. I hope the Inquirer's approach is not adopted by other news organizations."

The item, posted Thursday, received wider distribution on Monday when it appeared on Jim Romenesko's Poynter Institute Web site.

But Folkerts' version of what happened at the Inquirer is not shared by the newspaper, which says it has made no such change in policy.

Hai Do"You're talking to a person who didn't have a high school or college degree," Hai Do, the Inquirer's director of photography, who is running the intern program, told Journal-isms. "I know how tough it is to start without a high school or college degree." Do, who escaped from Vietnam by boat with his family in 1975, said he'd be the last one to deny an internship to a deserving student because his school would not or could not pay.

Vernon Loeb, the Inquirer's deputy managing editor, agreed. "I asked Dean Folkerts whether UNC would be interested in helping to underwrite an internship, for either all or part of the cost," he told Journal-isms. "We've never said that we won't have any internships if colleges won't fund them, only that we'd like colleges to help, to the extent they're able. Without some assistance, we wouldn't be able to fund all 12 summer internships on our own. Why deprive a student of an internship, if a college journalism school is able to help fund part of its cost? For $3,000 -- less than the cost of a course at many universities -- a journalism school can help propel a top student into the work world through the experience he or she is able to get in our newsroom."

Folkerts insists she heard what she heard. Do insists the students are picked before the schools are solicited financially. [On Tuesday, Andrew Mendelson, journalism chair at Temple University, said, "The letter we received made it sound there was a quid pro quo -- underwriting would lock up a spot for our students. I can't see the value of underwriting something that would go to a student from another university."]

In any case, it's not the first time that internships have been caught in budgetary battles occasioned by shrinking newsroom resources. And they are ethical battles, too.

Many have long felt that unpaid internships, particularly prevalent in the broadcast and book publishing industries, were unethical and favored the affluent.

Eyebrows were raised last year when the Notre Dame magazine reported that that school's Gallivan Program in Journalism, Ethics and Democracy "is taking a new approach to help Notre Dame students nab coveted summer reporting internships: Buy them."

The magazine said, "Last fall the Gallivan program reached agreements with The Philadelphia Inquirer, the Concord (New Hampshire) Monitor and the Los Angeles Times to take on Notre Dame summer interns."

"I fail to see how this is a bad thing," Loeb said of his paper's request that universities kick in if they can, "or how this is somehow depriving students of opportunity. Eight other universities" -- including, Do said, the City University of New York -- "apparently agree.

"I'm a UNC graduate. I also know what kind of experience our interns get here each summer. We let them go as high as their talents can take them. And we teach them to love this business as much as we do. I'm saddened that my alma mater can't help provide this experience for one of its top students."

Five of the summer class of 12 were students of color, Do said. In the spring, there were three of 12. "Diversity is extremely important to me," he said.

Ashwin VergheseAshwin Verghese, a new reporter at the Democrat and Chronicle in Rochester, N.Y., held two Inquirer internships.

His first was part-time and done for class credit at Temple University; on his second, over the summer, he was paid. Working in his hometown, Verghese, 22, said it was exciting to work with veteran reporters, especially since he began taking journalism classes only midway through college.

"I was just kind of proud that I was cranking out stories on a daily basis. I felt I was really contributing something," he said. "I had very little experience when I first took the internship. The internship ended the second week of August. Midway through September, I had a job. In our industry, on-the-job training is the most important thing."

For Last Debate, Schieffer to Seek More Details

Bob Schieffer"The debate season that has chewed up its moderators comes to a close Wednesday when John McCain and Barack Obama meet for the third time, with CBS News' Bob Schieffer directing the discussion," David Bauder wrote Sunday for the Associated Press.

"The veteran 'Face the Nation' host won't telegraph what he will ask. But he said he will be seeking more details about their potential presidencies than have been evident so far.

"'By now we've all heard their talking points,' he said. 'We've heard the general outlines of what they are talking about. The time has come to be a little more specific."

"Jim Lehrer, Gwen Ifill and Tom Brokaw had great plans going into their debates, too. Each had their own frustrations.

"Lehrer tried hard to get McCain and Obama to speak directly to the other when it was evident they didn't want to.

"During the vice presidential debate, Republican Sarah Palin took pride in not answering Ifill's questions. 'She blew me off,' a bemused Ifill said later.

"The advantages of a town hall style meeting were muted in Brokaw's presidential debate. The longtime NBC newsman was spoofed by his own network's 'Saturday Night Live' for overseeing a dry debate: 'From this list of penetrating, insightful and provocative questions, I have chosen the eight least interesting,' said Brokaw impersonator Chris Parnell.'"

As Finale Nears, Fewer Boys and Girls on the Bus

"With a single correspondent's campaign travel costing as much as $10,000 a week, the number of cash-strapped news organizations willing to pony up has been dwindling in recent years. Only five newspapers -- the New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times and Chicago Tribune -- are traveling regularly with [Barack] Obama and John McCain," Howard Kurtz wrote Monday in the Washington Post.

"The big regional papers, USA Today and Time magazine are there only intermittently, and Newsweek, which had been a constant presence on the trail, pulled back last week for financial reasons. (The networks, which used young off-air 'embeds' during much of the primary season, now have front-line correspondents on board to do daily live shots.)"

Meanwhile, Barry Sussman wrote for his Nieman Watchdog site that, "Assertions have been made against John McCain that, if true, could persuade many people that he is unqualified to be president. The charges go to his judgment, character and honesty. They deal with his time in the military before, during and after the 5¬? years he was a prisoner in Vietnam.

"The charges have not been sufficiently aired in the press. Indeed, they have been mentioned so rarely that most Americans aren't aware of them. In fact, instead of airing the charges, one could well conclude that the press has been withholding them — hiding them. Almost all the leading news organizations, instead of reporting or following up on stories which by themselves could swing the election, are running away from them.

"There are exceptions. One is the Los Angeles Times, another is Rolling Stone magazine. It's not their fault that the rest of the press has dodged their well-documented, eyeball-bulging news stories. . . ."

Obama Spokesman Turns Tables on Hannity

Sean Hannity"On the post-debate Hannity & Colmes program" on Fox News, "Barack Obama spokesman Robert Gibbs pushed back on Sean Hannity's fixation with William Ayers and nabbed Hannity for using a major anti-Semite as a source for smearing Obama at the same time. With video," the NewsHound site reported.

"Hannity started the segment with Gibbs by complaining that the debate was a 'rehash' of topics already discussed. Hannity was obviously disappointed that William Ayers had not come up. So Hannity figured he'd do it with Obama's spokesman.

"'Let me ask you a question,' Hannity said to Gibbs. 'How can you fight terrorism when you give speeches with, you sit on a board with (Hannity began counting on those fingers), [Obama strategist David] Axelrod says you're friendly with, and you never speak out against, William Ayers?"

"Gibbs replied by noting that Hannity had given a platform to Andy Martin, who 'called a judge a crooked clammy dude who has . . . a history of lying and thieving coming . . .

"'Martin went on to write that he understood better why the holocaust took place, given that Jew survivors are operating as a wolf pack of . . ."

Hannity said he found Martin's remarks "despicable" but that he was a journalist who interviews people with all points of view.

"Why am I not to believe that everybody who works for the network is anti-Semitic?" Gibbs asked. (Watch the video.)

With Layoffs, Telemundo Cuts 5% of Workforce

The NBC-owned Spanish-language network Telemundo trimmed about 5 percent of its workforce "across several departments both in the network and stations," spokesman Alfredo Richard told Journal-isms on Monday.

He declined to specify who was laid off, but names were circulating on such sites as Veronica Villafa?±e's Media Moves.

"Telemundo is making changes to its organization to meet the challenges of the current economic times. Our workforce will be impacted as we evaluate the work that we do across the network and stations and prioritize our focus to secure continued growth," Richard said in a statement.

". . . current market conditions require that we adapt to the economic environment. As painful as these changes are, they will solidify Telemundo's long term financial and competitive position as a leading provider of high quality content for Hispanics in the US and audiences around the world."

CBS Lays Off Veteran L.A. Broadcaster Larry Carroll

Larry CarrollVeteran Los Angeles broadcaster Larry Carroll was one of the casualties as "CBS Radio delivered layoffs news to KFWB/980 AM and KNX/1070 AM, pink-slipping three anchors, several reporters . . . KFWB is also closing both its Orange County and Long Beach news bureaus," Gary Lycan reported Sunday for the Orange County (Calif.) Register.

Carroll, a prominent local TV news anchor on network-owned KABC-TV and KCBS-TV, joined KFWB radio in 2001 after a career that included both a three-decade-plus career in broadcasting and, as the Los Angeles Times' Carla Hall wrote in 1999, a misguided journey into failed business projects and financial troubles.

A bio adds about Carroll, "He has been the recipient of an NAACP Image Award, an Emmy, seven Golden Mike awards, an AP Award, the 20th Anniversary Award for Journalistic Excellence from the Congressional Black Caucus and the Grand Award of the National Association of Black Journalists for Excellence in International Reporting. Carroll serves on the boards of the African Rim Institute and the Hosanna Broadcasting Network, a Christian digital satellite broadcast ministry serving Africa, the Middle East and Asia. He received a bachelor's degree in economics from Pomona College."

Liz Gonzales, San Francisco Newswoman, Dies at 51

Liz Gonzales"Liz Gonzales, a former newswoman and morning anchor with television station CBS 5-TV (KPIX) in San Francisco, died of cancer on Wednesday. She was 51," Reyhan Harmanci reported Saturday in the San Francisco Chronicle.

"She was an Emmy-winning reporter who worked for the station about five years before leaving in 1992 after the birth of her first child.

"Leaving the station didn't end Ms. Gonzales' reporting career. With her husband and frequent collaborator, news photographer Bob Goldsborough, she founded Gonwest Video Productions. Gonwest created news shows for every major network. Their last piece, Ted Koppel's four-part series on China, aired this summer."

Western Journalists Pulling Out on War Coverage

"The number of foreign journalists in Baghdad is declining sharply, a media withdrawal that reflects Iraq's growing stability and the financial strains faced by some news organizations," Ernesto Londo?±o and Amit R. Paley reported from Baghdad Saturday in the Washington Post.

"In a stark indication of the changing media focus here, the number of journalists traveling with American forces in Iraq has plummeted in the past year. U.S. military officials say they 'embedded' journalists 219 times in September 2007. Last month, the number shrank to 39. Of the dozen U.S. newspapers and newspaper chains that maintained full-time bureaus in Baghdad in the early years of the war, only four are still permanently staffed by foreign correspondents. CBS and NBC no longer keep a correspondent in Baghdad year-round."

About the other U.S. war, Sherry Ricchiardi wrote for the October/November issue of the American Journalism Review, "The number of Western correspondents covering the war in Afghanistan is barely in double digits. The conflict has largely been MIA on television. With a few sterling exceptions, newspapers have settled for brief dispatches played low on the homepage or inside the paper." Yet, as the AJR blurb notes, "The war in Afghanistan has heated up significantly."

Meanwhile, the Senate Intelligence Committee plans to investigate claims made last week by two former military intelligence officers that they routinely eavesdropped on the private telephone conversations of journalists, aid workers and military officers in Iraq, according to the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press.

"Adrienne Kinne, a former Army reservist, and David Murfee Faulk, a Navy linguist, told ABC News on Thursday they often listened to and transcribed personal phone conversations placed between Iraq and the United States. Kinne said some of those calls were made by journalists and involved 'personal, private things with Americans who are not in any way, shape or form associated with anything to do with terrorism.'"

Richard Prince's Journal-isms originates from Washington and is published Monday, Wednesday and Friday. It began in print before most of us knew what the Internet was, and it would like to be referred to as a "column." For newcomers: The words in blue (on most computers) are links leading to more information. The Web site provides passwords and user names to some registration-only news sites, but use may be illegal in some states. Any views expressed in the column are those of the person or organization quoted and not those of any other entity.

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