Here's a taste of what the NYT editorial board had to say:
Unpaid internships are, at best, ethically iffy. A necessary precursor to jobs in certain fields, they act as both a gateway and a barrier to entry. Young people believe they have no choice. Anyone unable to forgo pay risks being shut out.
I see this more as more than a labor issue. The editorial hits (too briefly) on the fact that only a certain class of students can afford to spend the summer (or even the school year) without a paycheck. If internships truly are the route to a job for college graduates, is this another way we are perpetuating a two-tier system?Legally, they’re murky. The Labor Department holds that unpaid internships in the nonprofit sector are “generally permissible,” meaning my stint at The Paris Review, a nonprofit, was probably legitimate. A similar arrangement at a moneymaking outfit wouldn’t pass the department’s six-point test, which says that interns cannot displace regular employees; that the experience must be “for the benefit of the intern”; and that the employer cannot derive an “immediate advantage” from the intern’s activities.
And then there's this: shouldn't those organizations with the noblest of missions -- i.e., non-profits -- do their best to attract a diverse workforce rather than, of necessity, limiting themselves to students of privilege? Just asking. bk