‘Nation’ interns write letter to the editor requesting better pay

Updated
Students march on Hollywood Boulevard while protesting the rising costs of student loans for higher education on September 22, 2012 in the Hollywood section...
Students march on Hollywood Boulevard while protesting the rising costs of student loans for higher education on September 22, 2012 in the Hollywood section...
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Interns at progressive magazine The Nation have found a new venue for salary negotiations: the magazine’s own letters to the editor section.
The latest issue of The Nation, dated August 19-26, features a letter to the editor from 12 recent former interns, asking that future interns be better paid. The Nation Institute, in another letter to the editor, agreed.
“Paying interns a living wage would remedy a workplace injustice and renew the vitality and relevance of the press,” write the interns. “Likewise, recruiting more interns from public universities and community colleges would enable organic intellectuals from the working class to redefine our nation’s public conversation.
The letter’s authors write that The Nation and The Nation Institute “verbally committed to work with us to change the terms of our internship.” Executive Editor Richard Kim confirmed to msnbc that this was the case. He said the magazine had agreed to pay all future interns the legal New York minimum wage.
“We’ve been trying to raise money for a long time to raise the stipend, and we’re really thankful that the interns wrote that letter and gave us a little push,” said Kim.
Interns currently work for $150 per week, provided in cash, which the letter’s authors call “an impossible prospect for many who are underrepresented in today’s media.” They argue that increasing interns’ wages would make it easier for the program to attract and cultivate writers from more diverse backgrounds. The letter cites an op-ed from the magazine’s June issue in which writer Farai Chideya argues that unpaid internships help perpetuate racial inequalities in journalism.
“If this lack of diversity in journalism is ignored, the profession may marginalize itself and become unable to serve our purpose for our present audience, let alone the future audience,” Chideya told msnbc in late May.
Disclosure: Chris Hayes, the host of msnbc’s All In with Chris Hayes, is editor-at-large for The Nation. Editor Katrina Vanden Heuvel is an msnbc contributor.
UPDATE, 11:21 p.m.: An earlier version of this article said that 10 signatories to the letter are currently listed on The Nation masthead. While this is true, their terms expired at the end of spring 2013.

'Nation' interns write letter to the editor requesting better pay

Updated