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Students face journalism internship and job cuts due to COVID-19


News outlets around the country are laying off staff, furloughing employees and implementing hiring freezes due to the financial fallout of COVID-19. Many college journalists have lost internships or had post-grad job offers withdrawn, while others are in limbo waiting to hear back from potential employers. An SPLC reporter spoke to them about what those lost opportunities mean and how they're trying to make the most of the summer despite these setbacks.

Deanna Schwartz, a rising junior at Northeastern University in Boston, was ecstatic about accepting a paid co-op position at The Boston Globe. She was devastated a few weeks later when the position was cut. Schwartz said she needs a semester-long co-op in order to graduate, so losing the position means she's going to graduate a semester late. And she's not the only one. “Everyone I know has had their internships canceled,” Schwartz said.

Another student was offered a job at a local paper, but when he called a few days later to accept the position, they had implemented a hiring freeze because of the financial strain of the pandemic. Now he's stuck waiting for a clear answer, and may need to start applying for other jobs.
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SPLC rounded up some paid fall internships that are still accepting applications. Due to COVID-19, the status of the programs are subject to change. If you know of other open internships, email them to ddieterich@splc.org.

SPLC Summer Media Law & Policy Institute


SPLC is proud to launch the Summer Media Law & Policy Institute, a three-week online training institute which will explore the legal framework and emerging issues of law, ethics and policy surrounding media law and press freedom. The Institute will run online from June 22 – July 10, 2020 on weekdays from 1 to 4 p.m. ET / 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. PT.

Law students and pre-law undergraduates with a particular interest in media law are invited to apply. Applications are due on May 20. See more, including FAQs and how to apply: 
See more

Q: I recently submitted an open records law request to my public school for budgetary information related to a time-sensitive story I’m working on. No one is disputing that the records are “public records” that must be disclosed. However, yesterday I received a response from the school telling me they are “not in a position to respond to your request at this time, given the disruption to operations brought about by the pandemic and state of emergency. Your request will be addressed in due course as conditions allow.” I understand that things are not normal right now, but is this vague, blanket denial permissible? 

A:
Probably not — but it will depend on where your school is located. Nearly two months after much of the country shifted their workforce to social distancing models, reporters are continuing to receive a lot of “COVID-19 excuses.” And while the pandemic has significantly changed how all of us, including our government agencies, are conducting business, there is no blanket COVID-19 exemption for denying access to otherwise public government records or meetings. Most, though not all, states have invoked “state of emergency” provisions that have allowed them to modify — not eliminate — the way they respond to records requests or conduct public meetings. You will want to check to see what the current rules are in your state.

The best source I know for tracking changes to state and federal FOI laws during COVID-19 is the free COVID-19 Federal and State Public Records and Open Meetings Measures hosted by the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press. 

See previous Ask SPLC answers

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Nominate students by May 22, 2020 for SPLC's high school journalism and college journalism awards to recognize exceptional efforts in fighting for student press freedom.
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