When Canadian Living announced its new journalism contest/internship program last month, which included a writing contest and an unpaid internship for the winner, it was met with a wave of criticism. Now, its changed the program.
The critics, some of who posted comments on J-Source’s original entry on the topic, admonished Canadian Living for taking advantage of cheap labour to pad its feature wells and then to further exploit entrants with an unpaid, 12-week internship. On the other side of the coin, I pointed out that unpaid internships are often a sad reality for young, budding journalists, and at least this one came with a promise of a published feature.
Today, however, Canadian Living announced that the two top winners will receive $6,500 as payment for the 12-week internship, in addition to the $1,500 prize for writing the best feature. Assuming interns will be putting in a 40-hour workweek, this works out to approximately $13.50/hour (not including the $1,500 prize money), which makes the Canadian Living Journalism Prize among the highest paying magazine internships around. Not too shabby.
It’s worth nothing, however, that this announcement comes only days after many Canadian freelancers, backed by PWAC and the Canadian Writers Group, launched a large-scale boycott against Transcontinental Media, which publishes Canadian Living. The boycott is in reaction to a lifetime contract that Transcon is asking its freelancers to sign, which many feel would strip them of too many rights for too little pay.
It’s possible that Canadian Living would require entrants to sign this contract and, if that’s the case, it would be very wise for entrants to read the contract thoroughly and think about its implications carefully before signing it.