After being sued in June by two former interns who were paid well below minimum wage, Condé Nast opted to end its longtime internship program altogether. As WWD reports, the current crop of interns will be Condé Nast's last; the program is ending in 2014.
No one at Condé, which owns WWD, would comment for the story, so it's not known whether (or if) they will replace their internship program with something else. Several media companies, including the Wire's parent Atlantic Media, have established paid fellowships for recent college graduates instead of offering unpaid internships.
Earlier this summer, Condé seemed to be making the claim that unpaid internships have educational value by stopping paying the $550 per semester stipend it had been offering to its interns. Activists who have criticized unpaid internships were not impressed by Condé's latest move:
SHAME on Condé Nast for ending their internship program, instead of paying a living wage. #payyourinterns— Fair Pay Campaign (@FairPayCampaign) October 23, 2013
Of course, those who never had a problem with the internships in the first place aren't happy, either. Aliza Licht, a senior vice president of communications at Donna Karan, reacted to the news by tweeting, "I hope everyone who sued knows they ruined it for EVERYONE."
That lawsuit, meanwhile, is still pending. Matthew Leib and Lauren Ballinger, who interned for The New Yorker and W Magazine respectively, hired the same lawyers who helped secure a potentially precedent-setting ruling for two former Black Swan interns who filed a class action suit against Fox Searchlight.
As the number of lawsuits against companies that have unpaid interns has multiplied, other media companies have begun changing their practices. The Nation agreed to pay its interns minimum wage after its interns wrote a letter to the editor. Harper's, however, brushed aside criticisms of its own program, claiming the program is "a learning experience that is the equal of J-school."