The Front Page: "A bunch of angry kids with no money"

Issue 20

It’s Friday, March 12th.

This time on The Front Page: Yes, we’re still making the case for paid internships. 

The Front Page is The Objective’s bi-weekly newsletter. If you feel like supporting us, we’re able to accept tax-deductible donations, courtesy of the Institute for Nonprofit News, our fiscal sponsor. We appreciate your support.

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It’s a tale as old as time: A media person tweets that unpaid internships are good, Twitter erupts, discourse ensues, repeat. This time it came from NFL Network reporter Jane Slater, who wrote, “there is a reason not everyone makes it in this business,” when implying that early-career journalists should take unpaid or underpaid opportunities. She later issued a statement, acknowledging she comes from familial wealth, and adding she doesn’t think people should work for free. 

Twitter, of course, didn’t respond kindly to her initial sentiment. Many journalists pointed out that they had to work multiple jobs to afford unpaid opportunities or were completely shut out from them

Let’s be clear: Unpaid internships are exploitative and elitist, only rewarding students who can pay for them (which sometimes isn’t enough) and leaving behind students from underrepresented backgrounds.

BuzzFeed lays off dozens of HuffPost employees

Three weeks after buying HuffPost, BuzzFeed is laying off 70 of the acquired company’s employees.

After purchasing HuffPost from Verizon Media last month, BuzzFeed chief executive and founder Jonah Peretti said he “believe[s] in the future of HuffPost and the potential it has to continue to define the media landscape for years to come.” Evidently, dozens of journalists who were laid off earlier this week will not be part of that future. 

To make matters worse, it’s reported that several of the laid off staffers were international employees who relied on their work to maintain visa status. And, the already dwindling international coverage from the frankensteined BuzzHuffFeedPost will become more rare with the incoming shutdown of BuzzFeed Canada—just two weeks after employees unionized with CWA Canada. (The HuffPost Canada Union was told the decision wasn’t related to organizing.)

Finally, we would be remiss if we didn’t talk about the truly sadistic way Peretti spread word of the layoffs: Defector reported that employees were invited to a meeting with a version of “spring is here” as the password, then told they were safe from impending layoffs as long as they didn’t receive an email that afternoon.

If you have a few bucks, you can support those journalists here. You can also share available openings that will be added to an internal spreadsheet.

“There was a union and they would protect me”

At 3:00 AM this morning, members of Gimlet Union secured their first contract.

Among other items, the union has prioritized clear pathways to promotion with salary minimums, the right to derivative works, across-the-board raises, and “initiatives to address anti-oppression, diversity and inclusion.” Given Gimlet’s history of abusing and exploiting Black employees, codified additions to the organization’s employee manual will be a welcome development. 

Ringer Union also bargained for its first contract this week, putting an emphasis on talent retention. In past sessions, members reached tentative agreements with Spotify management on parental leave, an anti-harassment policy, and a 40-hour work week. With a contract, these bargaining successes would be granted a significant level of protection.

Likewise, members of Parcast Union presented their newest counter proposals, which push for non-discrimination, pay equity, and health and safety regulations.


What’s happening

*$$$ denotes a paid event

  • 0 days until … the Parenting Journalists Conference. Workshop topics include podcasting, productivity tips, and ways to protect children’s privacy in written work. ($$$)

  • 3 days until … Sunshine Week: Press freedom, investigative journalism and opening closed doors, hosted by the National Press Club Journalism Institute and press freedom team. Panelists are expected to share “methods for diversifying investigative teams.”

  • 6 days until … the Spring National College Media Convention. The event includes more than 100 sessions on topics including multimedia reporting, career advice, and staff management, among others. ($$$)

  • 6 days until … Informing the public on the promise and perils of algorithms, a Society of Professional Journalists virtual panel. In addition to explaining how algorithms are created, speakers will discuss tactics for limiting bias in artificial intelligence.

  • 12 days until … How to Research, Write and Publish a Solutions-Focused Book. In this panel discussion, hosted by the Solutions Journalism Network, journalists Linda Villarosa and Andrew Wear “shed light on the ins and outs of nonfiction book writing through a solutions lens.”


A bit more media

Lawsuit alleges university violated First Amendment rights
The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) has filed a lawsuit against Haskell Indian Nations University on behalf of campus newspaper The Indian Leader and its editor-in-chief, Jared Nally. In October 2020, University President Ronald Graham sent a directive to Nally instructing him to stop reporting on stories deemed unfavorable by Graham. FIRE also reports that Haskell shorted The Indian Leader $10,000 in funds “without any notice or explanation.”

Iowa journalist acquitted of all charges
Des Moines Register reporter Andrea Sahouri was found not guilty by jury on Tuesday. Last May, Sahouri was pepper-sprayed and arrested while covering a Black Lives Matters protest. Sahouri, a Palestinian American, told Axios that race played a “huge part” in her arrest; Katie Akin, a former Register reporter, was with Sahouri but did not get arrested. 

Ebony and Jet will find a home in Atlanta
New company executives say Ebony, relaunched digitally on March 1, will be based in Atlanta. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution also reports that Jet will return in June—nearly a year after the magazine owners were forced into an involuntary bankruptcy—and that three previous employees are included in the new hires.

Teen Vogue staffers reject McCammond’s statements
Last week, Alexi McCammond was named editor-in-chief of Teen Vogue, prompting Diana Tsui, editorial director for The Infatuation, to create an Instagram post calling attention to racist and homophobic McCammond posted in 2011. Since then, a group of over 20 Teen Vogue staffers said they reject McCammond’s statements and wrote a letter to Condé Nast about the hiring decision. McCammond responded on Wednesday, writing she is “sorry to have used such hurtful and inexcusable language.”

Native American Journalists Association member survey
The Native American Journalists Association is considering updating its name to the Indigenous Journalists Association and expanding to allow for international partnerships. NAJA members are invited to take a survey that will help the organization determine its path forward. 

Marty Baron’s send offs ignore serious shortfalls
The Washington Post’s top editor eased into retirement at the end of the February, making room for retrospectives from his former paper and its competitors. Missing from most articles, however, is any acknowledgement of Baron’s behavior during last year’s “racial reckoning.” Wesley Lowery, formerly a national correspondent at the Post, writes that Baron’s claims that racial tension was unexpected are “absolutely nonsensical and ahistorical.”

A.H. Belo Corporation seeking new name
The company, which publishes the Dallas Morning News and Al Día, will ask shareholders to approve that change to “DallasNews Corporation” in May. The corporation’s founder, A.H. Belo, was a Confederate officer, a fact which “is the source of discomfort, even pain, for many of our fellow citizens,” said Robert Decherd, who serves the company as CEO, chairman, and president.


And finally, a few resources

Looking for a job? Here are a few places to look: INN | ONA | JournalismJobs.com | 10 Jobs and a Dog | NABJ | AAJA | NAHJ | NLGJA | @WritersofColor | MEO Jobs | Freelance Journalist Rates | StudyHall XYZ | Opportunities of the Week ($)   

How about a style guide? Trans Journalist Association | Diversity Style Guide | Tribal Nations Media Guide | NABJ Style Guide | Disability Language Style Guide | AAJA Guide to Covering Asian America | NAHJ Cultural Competence Handbook

If you’re a new reader, you can subscribe here. As always, if you like what you’re reading, forward this to a friend (or your boss). This issue is by Holly Piepenburg and Chelsea Cirruzzo with editing by Curtis Yee.

Thanks for reading. We’ll have more for you soon.