A former Cincinnati Enquirer intern who requests anonymity writes:
I found this headline on the Enquirer’s website this morning laughable: “Working for free: unpaid interns struggle, fight back.”
I was an (unpaid) intern at the Enquirer. It was a wonderful and challenging learning experience that I am very thankful to have had. While the Enquirer did disclose that they don’t pay interns in the article, they failed to mention that they have required unpaid interns to pay for their own parking at $50 per month. So once you factor in gas and the ridiculous price for downtown parking, an intern is certainly paying to work. Fortunately, I was given a free parking pass during my time there but they changed the rules the summer I graduated because they began hiring so many interns to make up for the downsized newsroom.
There is no doubt in my mind that I landed a great newspaper job out of college and gained invaluable experience because of my time at the Enquirer. I worked under some really great editors and reporters. However, there’s also no doubt in mind that I essentially replaced some of their laid off staff at times. Sometimes, I would come in and editors were frantic because there was not enough staff available to cover important press conferences or events, so they sent the capable intern to the event and were able to fill the local section that day.
Since my time there the staff has been cut in half – once again. Given the most recent round of layoffs just last week I wouldn’t be surprised if the Enquirer will become even more reliant on unpaid interns to fill the newspaper and cover community events that would have once been reported on by a beat reporter.