(De)valuing Intern Labour: Journalism Internship Pay Rates and Collective Representation in Canada

  • Errol Salamon McGill University
Keywords: low-paid internships, interns, journalism labour, unions, exploitation, precarity, newspaper crisis, political economy, Canada


Unpaid journalism internships have attracted increasing media coverage, but they have received limited scholarly attention. This paper traces the connections between trade unions (in unionized media organizations) and the labour conditions marking journalism internships. While some unions can be complicit in sustaining the exploitation and devaluation of interns with regard to the standard market value of entry-level labour, other unions have fought to establish internships, locking higher salaries into collective agreements. Building on the concept of precarity, this article surveys internships at 19 mainstream English-language newspapers and magazines in Canada. It draws on documentary evidence from and personal communication with labour unions and journalism organizations, internship advertisements, and media coverage to offer a typology of the relationships between pay rates and collective representation within journalism internships: unpaid/low paid and not under union jurisdiction; unpaid/low paid and under union jurisdiction; paid at intern rates and not under union jurisdiction; paid at intern rates and under union jurisdiction; and paid at entry-level employee rates and under union jurisdiction.

Author Biography

Errol Salamon, McGill University

Errol Salamon is a PhD candidate in communication studies at McGill University. He researches in the areas of critical political economy and communication history, especially as they intersect with creative work and labour, journalism, media policy, activism, alternative media, and digital technologies. He is co-editor and contributor to the forthcoming book Journalism in Crisis: Bridging Theory and Practice for Democratic Media Strategies in Canada (University of Toronto Press).


Interrogating Internships: Internships and Creative Industries