Is Time Warner’s Minority Intern Program Really a ‘Latter–Day Patronage Mill’?

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Company logo OR eye of Sauron?

The online application for Time Warner's much-hyped minority internship looks a little different than programs run by companies like Disney and Google. In addition to all the standard questions about academic achievements and volunteer work, Time Warner asks applicants to “provide a letter of recommendation from a member of the NYS Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic and Asian Legislative Caucus.” The unusual requirement has led some to believe that the internship is more concerned with helping Albany lawmakers than minority students. A mentor at Brooklyn Tech High School told the Brooklyn Paper that the program teaches, "a hard lesson in cronyism,” he said. “It’s a back-door effort for Time Warner to reward legislators. I guarantee you that minority kids are not hanging out with caucus members.” Just before the internship program was launched, Time Warner aggressively lobbied state lawmakers about ditching a $2 billion contract with the state, which the state ended up canceling in 2009.

After interviewing all eleven local members of the minority caucus about giving recommendations to students they didn't know (sample response: “It helps if we know their parents"), Brooklyn Paper concluded that the program functioned "like a latter-day patronage mill." But before you get riled up about cronyism and backdoor bribes, if it was a cynical maneuver on Time Warner's part, it doesn't seem to have paid off. At all. Thus far, no interns have been hired for Time Warner's "Connect a Million Minds" program and only a handful have applied.

Time Warner — helping minority students or minority pols? [Brooklyn Paper]