Many liberal publications fail to pay their interns living wages, despite decrying employees’ pay at companies like Wal-Mart and McDonalds, Vice’s Charles Davis highlighted Monday.
While failing to pay a “living wage,” at least one liberal publication, Davis reported, advised its interns or “fellows” to get on food stamps. That publication? Mother Jones, ironically named after labor leader Mary Harris Jones.
“During our first meeting with HR at Mother Jones, we were advised to sign up for food stamps,” one former intern told Davis.
According to Mother Jones, however, Davis’ characterization of Mother Jones’ food-stamp policy was misleading.
“From time to time incoming fellows have asked about food stamps,” Mother Jones spokeswoman Elizabeth Gettelman wrote in an email to The Daily Caller. “We’ve shared information about what services might be available to them. We have never encouraged or ‘advised’ our fellows to sign up for food stamps.”
Still, Davis noted Monday that the amount currently paid to Mother Jones fellows — $1,000 a month for the first six months and $1,400 if the fellow stays for an additional six months — is not enough to survive independently in San Francisco, where the company is based.
Davis used the publication’s own living wage calculator, to find that in California, an intern would need to make about $1,900 a month to make a “secure yet modest income.” By competition, Davis noted, that the company’s upper management make six-figure salaries.
Gettelman told TheDC that the publication plans to increase its fellowship stipend to $1,500 a month at the beginning of next year.
“As a nonprofit investigative news organization, this is an issue that Mother Jones has always felt strongly about, which is why we have been paying our interns a substantive stipend longer than many the industry,” she explained. “It’s also why, as of January 1, our 2014 budget increases the base fellowship stipend to $1,500 — an amount equivalent to slightly more than California minimum wage.”
Gettelman further took issue with Davis’ characterization of fellows as lowly employees explaining “fellows are in an investigative journalism training program. Many fellows have gone on to be hired by Mother Jones (currently, one in five staffers were once fellows), and many others have gone to positions at other leading national publications.”