Minority internships reflect a changing media

Eric Lind

Editor’s Note: This article is in response to an article by Doug Manners, Sports Editor, that appeared in the Chronicle’s 12/7/05 issue.

Certainly it must be frustrating to be disregarded outright for a potential internship. The idea that minority internships are crafted to employ minorities is entirely exclusive to the Caucasian male community. True statement. What’s missing in Manners’ interpretation however is the simplicity that such internships are intended to be exclusive, such that minority applicants become a focal point of inclusion.

Why companies would wish to do this, despite the ethical dilemmas Manners suggested in his article, are rather multifaceted. Just from a practical standpoint, seeking out minority applicants, as Manners mentioned, provides a company with a diverse workforce. What that should translate to is not only a diverse workforce, and not only a varying set of reporting, but a strategic decision to increase readership, viewership, etc among the minority populations in a way satisfactory to, and digestible by, minority communities.

It’s no secret that newspapers and local television news consumers have been in a perpetual state of decline for the last 25 years. Although I have no basis other than my own experience to say this, it would seem the market for white male style reporting has also been in decline as many white males, reportedly more affluent by virtue of numerous economic reports from the Bureau of Labor Statistics etc, are turning to the internet for their news sources. Internet news is efficient, searchable, very close to real time, inexpensive, and accessible IF you have an Internet connected PC.

Many minorities, of course, do not have unrestricted or unlimited access to internet connected PC’s. New York City’s public libraries are most certainly not open 24 hours, and many are on short hours; something like 11a.m. – 6p.m. variable with the day of the week. The cost of transportation to the library by subway is $2 each way. For a minority to have the daily access to the internet would cost them $120 per month just in transportation costs,
exclusive of time and trouble getting there, waiting in line for a PC to use often only for limited periods of time, among other harrowing tasks and problems. Compare that to more affluent white males who often have computers at home and pay $45 per month for internet access and it hardly seems fair. This isn’t to suggest that life is fair.

Returning to the point at hand however, the strategic benefit of hiring minority reporters reaches the economic nerve center by giving minorities the opportunity to acquire news reported by similar faces in a manner that is more accessible. If memory serves me right, 98% or more of American homes have a television set. Newspapers are half or fractions less the cost of traveling to the library by subway or other means.

With white males fleeting to internet news, why wouldn’t television and newspaper companies absolutely be seeking new ways to increase reader/viewership? Perhaps ethnocentric economics is another ethical dilemma worthy of notoriety in this zine, but it appears clear to me that the reason white males aren’t being asked to apply is because the demand to view and read them is steadily and rapidly decreasing.