Unpaid Gawking: Interning in the Big Bad World of New Media

Scanning Gawker between classes on a cold December day, I noticed a friendly appeal for interns. Gawker is a media blog notorious for its snarky approach to everything from the Libyan crisis to pseudo-academic reviews of the Jersey Shore. To an international student living in America, Gawker was a good introduction to this country’s zany culture. I finally understood why people cared about cute cat videos, celebrities on Twitter and the difference between Democrats and Republicans. Four months after I discovered Gawker, I applied to be a Media-Video Intern; the perfect way to constructively channel my addiction to American pop culture crap.

Gawker’s office is situated in a neighborhood where the price of a measly vegan sandwich often exceeds $10.00. The office is spacious, trendy-esque with dimmed lighting and sometimes questionable music. The seating arrangement is very open insofar that it can be a little intimidating. There are no cubicles and the writers are seated according to website. The interns were crammed somewhere between Gawker and Gizmodo. With unlimited coffee and access to about 6 different TVs, the setup was just brilliant.

My job officially required me to find, edit and write about viral videos and funny TV clips. These posts were meant to attract as many unique page views as possible. Additionally, I was assigned to pitch clips from TV shows ranging from Fox and Friends (made my mornings just peachy) to Gossip Girl (I’ve discovered it’s easier to write about shows you dislike). For the first three months, I wrote semi-entertaining posts, composed snappy headlines, edited and pitched viral videos and TV clips. One of my favorite assignments involved reviewing an episode of the US version of Skins. It’s an interesting feeling to know that a few thousand people read your slightly crazed, indignant rantings about a beloved TV show that gets butchered on its way to America.

However, my responsibilities as an intern changed drastically by the last month. The website I signed up to intern for was essentially dissolved (RIP GawkerTV). The Great Gawker Redesign of ’11 was introduced, my boss left, Kathy Griffin randomly showed up at the office and I learned how to make packed lunches. While the internship was largely instructional and entertaining, it did have its drawbacks. For instance, I didn’t actually get to know anyone on the staff. A large part of the media business is getting the right contacts (or so I’ve been told) and that didn’t really happen in my case. Also, it is ridiculously expensive to intern in the city, about $160 a month to get there and back. Not to mention, Gawker (unfairly) attacked SLC recently. In my first display of school spirit, I showed up at work the next day proudly sporting a “Super-SLC” shirt.

Preksha '14 shows where her loyalty lies

Overall, I’d say it was loads of fun and the other interns were lovely people. I got some hands on experience in video editing and blogging as opposed to making coffee and running errands. I honestly didn’t mind the killer schedule of 9am to 7pm, Tuesdays and Fridays. Then again, I experienced moments of “What am I doing with my life?” while watching my umpteenth Rebeeca Black interview; but in those moments, it was important to push aside my naive notions of “proper journalism” and just embrace the snark.

1 Comment

  • Reply November 19, 2011

    Erin

    Thank you for confirming my suspicion that the interns write the posts.

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