Report: Medill weighing payment for JR students

The Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications is considering allowing students to be paid by their employers during their school’s mandatory quarter-long internship, known as journalism residency, according to a document obtained by ProPublica.

“Medill would like to know whether you would be willing to pay a student who is doing a residency at your site and, if so, how much you would be willing to pay,” Medill Prof. Desiree Hanford, the journalism residency coordinator, wrote in an email to JR sites on July 30. “Would you be willing to pay your state’s minimum wage? This payment would be given directly to the student and in lieu of the $1,250 that a site is invoiced.”

Medill officials were not immediately available for comment.

The public interest outlet ProPublica examined Medill’s JR program as part of its series on investigative reporting on unpaid internships around the country. Employers of Medill juniors and seniors pay the school $1,250, some of which is given to students in the form of a stipend, per JR student at that site. Students are also required to pay full tuition while completing the internship.

U.S. labor law requires unpaid internships to be of educational benefit to the intern, and interns may not replace the work of regular employees. Employers are also forbidden from gaining “immediate advantage” from unpaid interns.

Last week, Medill announced a policy change allowing students to take classes — at Northwestern or online — or take on a part-time job during the quarter.

(Policy change allows Medill students to take on extra work while on JR)

“Students are accustomed to carrying four, sometimes five, units of credit and in many cases also working,” Hanford told The Daily last week. “We thought students should have these options while on JR.”

— Joseph Diebold