Students begin strike against unpaid internships in the journalism department
The Journalism Student Association (JSA) started their strike against unpaid internships on March 18. The JSA is taking part in a one-week strike from March 18 to 22 in solidarity with nearly 40,000 students on a general unpaid internship strike occuring at schools across the province.
“This strike of unpaid internships is directly related to our own experience as young journalists,” said Miriam Lafontaine, member of the JSA’s strike committee. Unpaid internships are super common in journalism and I think it’s time we have a conversation about that.”
Lafontaine and Erika Morris, who are both on the JSA’s strike committee, discussed the fine line between learning and working, at a press conference held on March 18. “There’s a large difference between going to class for three to four hours a week than to be doing an unpaid internship for 15 to 20 hours a week and to pay for that unpaid internship while not being remunerated for it,” said Morris.
In response to an argument about internships being a form of training rather than a job, Lafontaine mentioned how some interns who do unpaid internships end up with the same responsibilities as an employee which blurs the line between work and study. “We are doing valuable work—we are contributing something valuable to the community and that merits some form of compensation,” she said.
The JSA’s strike committee is organizing workshops this week such as “Know your rights as a freelancer + intern.” There will also be a workshop on protest safety measures for journalists.
Photo by Sandra Hercegova.