Story pick: How some people (guess who?) get internships
I got my naivete about this knocked out of me when I was finishing up college and called the newspaper that I had spent hundreds of hours writing stories for when I was supposed to be studying history. How do I apply for your summer internship? I asked.
"Oh, sorry, we'd love to have you, but our internships are only for the kids of big politicians and the publisher's friends," my editor replied. Whereupon he reeled off the names of some of Philadelphia's most prominent and connected families and announced that their precious offspring would be the paper's interns that summer.
So I went to Miami instead, where the interns were selected based on their past writing, not on their bloodlines.
Now comes the New York Times, with a delicious piece about how Mayor Michael Bloomberg's administration chooses some of its interns -- people with names such as Tisch, Blankfein, Leinsdorf and Doctoroff, names that echo in the power alleys of Manhattan. The city's interns include the children and other relations of people such as playwright Neil Simon, the late TV newsman Tim Russert, and Thomas Secunda, co-founder of Bloomberg's financial information company.
It's a splendidly reported piece, based on a Freedom of Information Act request by reporters David Chen and Michael Barbaro.
Of course, the city government also gives summer jobs to unconnected people who just happen to deserve such plum posts, but the administration's practice of handing out internships to, as the Times puts it, "dozens of young people with connections to the mayor’s friends, business associates and government appointees" hardly comports with Bloomberg's stated opposition to nepotism.
As the Times story notes, "In a fiery 2004 speech, [Bloomberg] lambasted the state system for appointing civil and Supreme Court judges, saying it 'allows party leaders to dictate hiring decisions based on party connections — or family connections — and not on merit.'"
| July 20, 2010; 8:44 AM ET
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