Toronto Star suspends its internships for young journalists

Published On February 16, 2018 | By ornellacariello | News

Ornella Cariello

The Toronto Star suspended its journalism summer and year-long internship programs leaving students surprised and disappointed.

Bob Hepburn, the Toronto Star’s director of communication, said the paper will continue to hire interns for the Radio Room, but he hopes market conditions will improve so it can resume all internship programs as soon as possible.

“This is a really big blow for young journalists in Canada,” said Andrew Jeffrey, a 25-year-old journalism post grad student at Humber College who went to a tour at Toronto Star and applied for their Radio Room internship. 

Jeffrey said he was very surprised when he heard the news about the suspension of the two internship programs, especially because he had the opportunity to talk with editors, reporters and current interns during the tour at the Star. He said they were very supportive and pushed them to definitely think about applying for internships there.

“At that point, there was no kind of indication given that any of this was coming,” he said.

Every year, the Star hired 10 summer and 10 year-long interns, Hepburn said. He estimates that 700 students apply for the posts each year and he guarantees the news was as bad for Star employees as it is for aspiring journalists.

Suspending the (two) internship programs were a very difficult decision,” he said. “Most of the companies in Canada and North America are facing declining advertising revenues, so we need to take some measures to regress that declining.”

Each year-long intern was paid about $50,000 per year and Hepburn said the company had to make the decision to preserve their full-time reporters, editors and photographers.

“These are decisions that, in our ideal, we would not take,” he said.

Lindsay Charlton, another Humber student that attended the Star tour, said the internship suspensions is going to impact the careers of young journalists. It was once a major launchpad for starting a career and seeing their demise is disappointing, she said.

“The job market just seems that it’s not what we expected,” she said. “I don’t know what to expect when looking for a job.”

Jeffrey thinks there are fewer and fewer opportunities for young journalists to work. He said it is important for young journalists to have a guidance from an experienced editor when working.

He said he believes many of young journalists will not be able to get valuable experience.

“Unfortunately, this is a pretty bad sign of a growing trend across Canadian media,” he said.

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