Posted on | December 2, 2013 | 43 Comments
Liberals are stupid. We know this. Samuel Johnson knew this, too:
If you’re smart, you can figure out how to get paid to write. If you’re stupid, you’ll be a liberal journalism intern like Charles Davis:
I was 21 years old when I took out my earring, combed my hair, and tried concealing my distaste for power and Washington, DC, in order to ask questions at press conferences. It was the summer of 2006, and I had just left college to work for a small, do-gooding nonprofit that covered Capitol Hill for public radio. . . .
What I did looked and felt like an entry-level job in the media. And I enjoyed it—I liked going up to any old white guy in a suit and asking him to explain in his own words why he’s destroying the country. I felt as if I had sort of made it, as much as an English major can. I wasn’t living at home, I got to carry a microphone, and my work was broadcast over the radio. To an outsider looking in, I almost looked like a respectable person.
The problem was I wasn’t being compensated for any of that work or my veneer of respectability. What I did every day might have appeared to be a job, but I was labeled an “intern,” meaning I got paid in experience and networking opportunities, not anything tangible. I made rent by taking a part-time job serving mediocre Mexican food across from the National Press Club . . . Periodic calls to Mommy and Daddy also helped. That was what was expected of me — I’m part of a generation conditioned to believe that if you just work for free hard enough and long enough, you can become president some day.
I was fortunate, all things considered. My labor was being exploited by a boss who took in $100,000 a year, but I was privileged enough that I could afford the exploitation for a few months, sort of. I had parents who could kick me some cash every now and then with only moderate-to-severe grief. And it hadn’t yet hit me that I had to pay back all those student loans.
Charles Davis — who now describes himself as “a writer and producer in Los Angeles” — may no longer write for free, but he is still a liberal, which means he is still stupid enough to think that the people who get paid to do what he did for free actually believe in the “idealistic” egalitarian goals that they espouse:
Paying people little to nothing because you can — a practice aided by the awfulness of the job market and the desperation of people trying to make it in “glamour” industries like journalism — is both exploitive and discriminatory, but many good liberals do not appear to recognize it as such, even as they decry that behavior elsewhere. . . .
(Uh, journalism is a “glamour” industry? Says who?)
Robert Reich served as labor secretary under Bill Clinton and is outspoken in his support for a living wage. . . .
His political advocacy group, Common Cause, is only one of the organizations he has a hand in that relies on free or near-free labor. In a recent listing, The American Prospect, a magazine founded by Reich and other veterans of the Clinton administration, announced it was looking for editorial interns to assist “with fact-checking and research.” The interns will be “encouraged to contribute editorially and participate in meetings in addition to pursuing their own projects.”
Sounds good, but, “This is a full-time internship and comes with a $100 weekly stipend,” according to the listing. That comes to about $2.50 an hour, or “not nothing” if you are a glass-half-full type. . . .
(Show of hands: Who would want to work for an organization founded by Robert Reich “and other veterans of the Clinton administration” at any price? Oh, look — nobody with a lick of sense raised their hand. Guess that’s why morons do it for free.)
The fellowship offered by Mother Jones is neither an internship nor an entry-level job . . . but the compensation could fool you: “Fellows receive a $1,000 monthly stipend.” Assuming a 40-hour workweek (many journalists work much longer hours than that), that means a fellow at Mother Jones earns less than $6 an hour in a state, California, that just decided to raise the minimum wage to $10. In San Francisco, where the magazine is based, $1,000 a month isn’t enough to pay for both food and shelter. . . .
After six months . . . a fellowship at Mother Jones can be extended the rest of the year at a rate of $1,400 a month. . . .
[T]he names at the top of the masthead are very comfortable. Editors Monika Bauerlein and Clara Jeffery each make more than $167,000 a year, while chief operating officer Madeleine Buckingham makes $159,000.
(So the top three names on the masthead divvy up $493,000 between them. Multiply $1,400 a month times 12 and the annual salary of a Mother Jones “fellow” is $16,800, so that the combined salary of the top three Mother Jones honchos is equivalent to the annual salaries of 29.3 “fellows.” Nice work, if you can get it.)
But at the liberal online news magazine Salon, internships are not for those just starting out.
“Some professional experience is required,” says a listing for an editorial internship at Salon. If you get that job, you’ll be helping “research, report, write and produce our news and culture coverage,” which sounds a lot like a job. The position, based in New York City, is unpaid.
Though it does not pay its professionally experienced interns a dime, Salon (which has published my work in the past) has had the chutzpah to run a number of stories on the plight of unpaid workers, such as, “‘Intern Nation’: Are We Exploiting a Generation of Workers?” and “Unpaid and Sexually Harassed: The Latest Intern Injustice.” The company did not respond to a request for comment.
(The saddest part about this? Although it doesn’t pay its interns a red cent, Salon has still managed to lose millions of dollars a year, every year, since the days of 56K-baud dial-up modems. But, hey, stupid liberals get the “glamour” of working for nothing at a money-losing lefty blog whose star writer is Joan Walsh, so there’s that.)
The New Republic is another liberal outlet with a problematic labor record. Owned by a co-founder of Facebook worth more than $600 million, the magazine is currently hiring interns . . . Previous experience in journalism is “preferred, but not imperative.”
TNR used to advertise that its internships “are full-time, unpaid, and based in the DC office,” but that language was removed soon after the magazine became aware of this story. . . .
(Dishonest liberals trying to hide the truth? I’m shocked!)
TNR has the money to pay interns but doesn’t, likely because there is an established culture in the media world that treats working for free as the cost of admission. And when everyone else is doing it, why not? And so Harper’s is looking for interns to “work on a full-time, unpaid basis for three to five months” . . . and the Washington Monthly, which claims to be “thriving” thanks to “generous long-term support from foundations and donors,” is offering internships that are “unpaid and can be either part-time or full-time.” . . .
(And now, ladies and gentlemen, the call to action.)
So here’s a challenge to the liberal media: If you are in favor of a living wage and oppose discrimination against the poor, let’s see that reflected in your newsrooms, not just on your blogs. . . .It also just sets a bad example. If the bleeding hearts aren’t ashamed enough to pay their workers, why should anyone?
Charles, I’d like to give you some advice on how to stop being a complete chump, but the “About” page on your blog doesn’t list an e-mail address or a Twitter account. And so if somebody actually wanted to hire you, how would they get in touch with you? (Don’t worry, I just looked you up on Twitter.)
Also, there is no commercial nexus on your blog — no ads, no PayPal, no Amazon — and thus no way for you to make money from what you publish yourself, so that you are in effect paying yourself nothing for your own work, as if it were entirely worthless.
By contrast, as a shameless capitalist blogger, I’m going to suggest readers shop for fabulous savings at Amazon (from which I receive a small commission) and also include a PayPal “donate” button, so readers can pay me for the pleasure of mocking your stupidity.
This lesson will perhaps be more valuable to you, Charles Davis, than anything you learned via your internships. You’re welcome.