Interns and Signalling

It’s not an irony, it’s simple causality: the New York Sun treats its interns so atrociously because it could fail at any minute.

The Sun’s memo to interns is worth reading. It seems to dwell on the hardships of the job: interns are told twice that their position is unpaid (which surely they knew full well long before receiving this memo), as well as being banned from taking subway journeys of more than 30 minutes, and being told that men need to wear a necktie and wool slacks to the office even on a summer Sunday. Oh, and if you ask for a byline on a story you wrote, you "will be terminated".

The message, communicated loud and clear, is simple: you had better take this internship very seriously. And why would the Sun feel it necessary to send such a message? Because it feels that if it didn’t, the interns might not take their jobs seriously. And why would newspaper interns not take their jobs seriously? Because they know that the paper they’re working for is a largely unread right-wing folly and money pit which is an important news source for pretty much nobody.

If newspapers were stocks, the intern memo would be a signal to go short. The Sun won’t fail because it treats its interns badly, of course not. But does it treat its interns badly because it could fail? Yes.

Incidentally, on the subject of interns, I’m thinking about acquiring one: do let me know if you’re interested. There’s no dress code.

(HT: Jeff, twice)

This entry was posted in Media. Bookmark the permalink.