Journalism and its Culture of Privilege

Tuesday 28 May 2013

It's getting to that time of year. Summer, in the northern hemisphere. Living at one degree above the equator, I just manage to qualify as a northern hemisphere dweller and, as such, I'm looking forward to the approaching summer break. But, I'm not quite there yet, and work remains. One of summer's less vitalizing tasks will be to write university references for my grade 11 tutor group (when else to write these references, if not summer?). So, before the students depart, I will, amongst other things, ask them all what they intend to do for their long summer break. Many, I know (trust me), will tell me about their plans to 'do an internship with NASA, 'do an internship at Vogue', 'do an internship with the FBI', and so on.

Hyperbole notwithstanding, some or many of my students will do an internship, which is, let's face it, a form of work experience. And what's wrong with that?

Well, at the level of social structure, some do see it as problematic; that is, as another mechanism entrenching stratification in society. There is an article in today's Guardian newspaper, written by David Dennis, who claims that unpaid internships and a culture of privilege are ruining journalism. Dennis may be a little naive; when didn't privilege matter? Nevertheless, the idiom of privilege - the extended internship - may be more recent.

It strikes me that the article can easily stimulate debate in the classroom around ideology, and contexts of production and reception. And, for the teenage student, considering university, the world of work, and perhaps that IMF internship, it is surely interesting. 

Tags: paper 2


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