Weekend Reading

80% chance of precipitation, 100% chance of reading:

Employers will usually say they offer internships as a form of training to those who lack the experience to get hired. They say this because they are legally required to in order to justify paying people below minimum wage. But at the liberal online news magazine Salon, internships are not for those just starting out.

“Some professional experience is required,” says a listing for an editorial internship at Salon. If you get that job, you’ll be helping “research, report, write and produce our news and culture coverage,” which sounds a lot like a job. The position, based in New York City, is unpaid.

Though it does not pay its professionally experienced interns a dime, Salon (which has published my work in the past) has had the chutzpah to run a number of stories on the plight of unpaid workers, such as, “‘Intern Nation’: Are We Exploiting a Generation of Workers?” and “Unpaid and Sexually Harassed: The Latest Intern Injustice.” The company did not respond to a request for comment.

The New Republic is another liberal outlet with a problematic labor record. Owned by a co-founder of Facebook worth more than $600 million, the magazine is currently hiring interns whose responsibilities include “conducting research for editors,” as well as “pitching and writing blog posts and web pieces.” Previous experience in journalism is “preferred, but not imperative.”

TNR used to advertise that its internships “are full-time, unpaid, and based in the DC office,” but that language was removed soon after the magazine became aware of this story. Spokesperson Annie Augustine told me that despite the change in language, “there has not been a change in policy.”

Rafiq Rehman, an elementary school teacher, addressed a small audience during a congressional briefing, describing in vivid detail how his mother, 67-year-old midwife Momina Bibi, was killed and his children, Nabila, 9, and her 13-year-old brother, Zubair, were injured by a US drone strike.


Alan Grayson, despite having called drone strikes “dead wrong”, contended that war crimes were not committed because there was a lack of intent to kill civilians.

This contention ignores signature strikes as well as secondary strikes, the latter of which often target first responders, the civilian rescuers attempting to provide medical assistance to those injured by drone strikes. Drone strikes are a flagrant breach of international law, as they violate Pakistan’s sovereignty, have not met legal obligations to ensure transparency and accountability and have allowed civilians to become objects of attack.

2013 was a very good year for white artists openly appropriating African-American style, sounds and even literal voices. There was the blue-eyed soul of Robin Thicke and Justin Timberlake; dance dominance from Daft Punk and Avicii, the hick-hop of Florida Georgia Line; the R&B sweetness of Ariana Grande; the backpacker rap of Macklemore & Ryan Lewis. There was Eminem, again. It’s difficult to not see this year as another round in the ongoing cycle of appropriation and marginalization that grew out of minstrelsy. That’s not to say Lorde and every other artist named in this paragraph doesn’t respect and even love African-American culture. But love doesn’t always bestow power.

Both “Royals” and the protests it’s inspired are about that central subject of power. Not just the chance to live the luxe life, or the luxury of not even wanting it; but also the right to speak, to assume a way of being, even to occupy certain spaces. The song’s not called “Royals” by accident; like Ella Yelich-O’Connor’s stage name, the title reminds us that first-class living is a concept grounded in the blood rights.


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