Medill’s Journalism Residency program allows new options for current students

    Updated at 4:40 p.m. on Aug. 21 to include an announcement from Desi Hanford.

    Medill announced Monday in an email to current students that they may now count approved summer internships to fulfill their required Journalism Residency.

    Associate Dean Craig LaMay and JR Coordinator Desiree Hanford sent a letter to students stating they will now have three options for choosing JR sites: going through Medill's current placement options, creating their own JR site or using an "existing internship or fellowship as a JR" – which includes summer internships. These changes apply to the Class of 2016 and on.

    However, Medill must approve the internships as JR sites before they begin, meaning students may only take advantage of the summer option in upcoming years. Previous internships cannot be used to exempt the JR requirement, according to LaMay and Hanford's letter.

    Should students use a summer internship for JR, they would have the option to pay tuition for that quarter and receive four journalism credits (up from the previous three credits), or to not pay tuition and therefore not earn credits. To make them up, students must take three additional journalism units, including a Medill skills course and a Medill industry-understanding course.

    These changes come about one year after ProPublica published a story critiquing Medill and its unpaid Journalism Residency program. The article revealed that the school had asked sites whether they would be willing to pay students minimum wage, leading many students to further question the fairness of the program. 

    While the newly announced options will allow students more choice and flexibility for JR, they do not make many changes towards paying students. Students will either receive a $1250 stipend or be paid by the site if they choose to stick with Medill's placement options.

    Following the other two options means the internship sites decide payment, and although "Medill encourages [students] to look for a site that will either agree to give you a stipend or pay you...the choice is yours to select a site that pays or doesn't pay."

    Three days after the email announcement, Hanford announced by email that she would be stepping down as JR coordinator and director of undergraduate program to return to full time teaching. She will keep the position until the end of the month, after which Medill professor Beth Bennett will oversee Medill undergraduates.

    Medill has not yet announced a replacement JR coordinator, but Hanford says an announcement will be made soon.


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