Before I share my real thoughts on Charles Davis' sensational piece on unpaid labor at liberal/progressive newsites, let me take you back three years ago in my life, you want to read.
(To note: If you get a chance in your day, I highly recommend you read that piece if you aren't aware of it yet. I wasn't at the Kos yesterday, so not sure if anyone did a post or thread about it, so apologize if there is a repeat for sure and will try and acknowledge any one that did write on this here)
I was one of those unpaid interns Davis talks about in that piece, as I was at Talking Points Memo. I saw and read that it would be unpaid, and I accepted that when Ben Frumin, who worked there at the time and was the internship director while being a top editor in the Manhattan office, talked to me about it.
Now let me tell you this. It was a five day (excluding holidays) internship (Monday to Friday) from 8:30 AM to at least 5 PM for the minimum of three months. I started in November 2010 and really thought about leaving in January 2011 when MoveOn.org contacted me about a paid job position. Frumin, who is a class act of a person and who I always respected, demanded that I stayed at TPM for the second half of the unpaid internship and that I would at least be given a chance to write articles in my last month of the internship.
Even with me getting a chance to cover the Egyptian protests, the Wisconsin union protests on the nutcase that is Scott Walker and all Republicans, and even writing about Ron Paul requesting that the Department of Education be abolished for good at a great newsite like TPM, I knew that I should have taken that MoveOn.org job.
I not only have college loans to pay that my parents are helping me with, but honestly, I'm in a family that is barely middle class in one of America's traditionally worst neighborhoods on the verge of going through shameful, typical gentrification of property values being raised. I was always one step away from leaving journalism (even sports) altogether the last two years (even earlier this year), and my parents are always one major moment away from it being 'really bad,' as being a public school teacher and a MTA bus driver in New York is as average middle class as you can get in Bed-Stuy "Do or Die" Brooklyn.
I don't know how I survived without a steady paying job after graduating expensive college in 2009 with loan after loan after the first year and a half, besides the grace of the Holy Trinity (just speaking for myself there, not anyone else). But I stayed thinking that maybe after doing those articles and knowing a lot of liberal colleagues that I would be hired to work at TPM (since I somehow couldn't even get part time work at Target or a few other retail places, can you believe that one?).
It didn't get hired, although I was glad to see good people like Jon Terbush and David Taintor be rewarded with fellowship positions as they were apart of the intern class before me, Melissa Jeltsen, and two other people.
Without TPM, I wouldn't have been able to work at The Raw Story, who are still too small of a website to be a behemoth and give out health insurance to all of its employees (at least in my time there as a staff writer or associate editor), yet pay their workers minimum wage.
Last I heard, TPM doesn't still play their interns who work those long hours and who are certainly not guaranteed a job there after the three-month obligation, like me. I hope that really does change, but more on that, like, right now.
Because enough about me, let's get back to Davis' sensational and important piece, because he went though the same situation as me and many, many others went through and who are still dealing with. Especially if you aren't white and firmly middle class in an expensive city.
The next paragraph I say with full love and appreciation for some of the people I will mention here (especially since I met and know some of them in person), because it's not going to be pretty what I have to say in this next paragraph.
From Amy Goodman to all of those righteous colleagues that I know at (or contributes to) Salon, nine-figures TNR, In These Times, TPM, Mother Jones, The American Prospect and across the board, you should all be ashamed of yourselves for the hypocritical behavior you transpire in.
And let me just be clear, I again respect and really do even love some of these people at these places. And I understand that liberal media is not the most lucrative profession, let alone any journalism not dealing with getting Chris Matthews or Bill O'Reilly television pay, or Tom Friedman, David Brooks, Nick Kristof or Richard Cohen crappy columnist wonderful salaries.
But you all look terrible in this and deserve to look terrible for your actions. It's a reason why our liberal/progressive online community can't shine to its fullest potential when hypocritical nonsense like this easily happens.
And the silence from the likes of Joan Walsh (Salon) or Clara Jeffrey (Mother Jones) or those clowns running TNR on this is unsurprising, but still so disturbing. At least Mike Elk had the courage to talk about this with Charles, and at least The Nation took steps to address their embarrassment and paid their interns better.
It looks even more egregious for these hypocritical websites when Pro Publica pays an entry-level person quite well and when you don't hear the same things transpiring at Think Progress or Media Matters.
I just hope the terrific and reputable likes of Alex Pareene and David Dayen and Jonathan Cohn and whoever works or is a vital, paid contributor to these once great news organizations would be vocal about this and demand that the sites they are an integral part of NOT do hypocritical things like this. I hope they don't stay silent and slam the same practices they see from big corporations and corporate sellout public officials from the sites that give them needed pay.
I find it utterly laughable when Dayen, a person who is well cognizant of many things and is quite smart with detecting any types of bull as well all know form his DDay days here at FDL and with Digby, goes ahead and says, "I just finished it and am horrified by it," yet has not written about it or publicly slammed these organizations (Salon, TNR) he contributes to now.
I sure hope that changes since he has a clear moral heart and has done so much over the years to improve journalism without being an all-out journalist, but I'm not holding my breath for that.
Priorities I guess when a salary and putting food on the table for the family supersedes just keeping it real and upholding values, but who the hell knows?
Say something please for those out there at these places. This is chance to change those cultures, so you won't have hypocrite conservatives and centrist, corporate media calling us hypocrites back, and how we lose a bit of the moral high ground with stuff like this.
Nevertheless, I won't be shocked though if things continue to happen the same way at these prominent rational news organizations despite Davis' timely and clutch piece. The shame is too real for some, and when you get called on your hypocrisy, you either thankfully admit it and fix it, or you just go "La La La La La, I don't hear you," and hope it goes away. Liz Cheney couldn't do it anybody better than these folks who do that ignoring when she walked cowardly away from Rachel Maddow a few years ago at CPAC.
The only thing bad about Davis' piece was the fact that it had to appear at VICE, instead of any progressive website. It's an indictment on those news organizations when VICE of all "Wannabe cool, let's have all of our libertarians also do stories and shape half truth opinions" places is the home to this important and pertinent piece.
But it's the price we all pay when suppose leaders of the rational online movement can't admit and correct their shameful double standard behavior.
Awful and unacceptable.
(May you all be well ladies and gentleman. God Bless and have a good day).