Fashion magazine Elle has hired a homeless and unemployed blogger named Brianna Karp... for $150 per month. Her new job/internship will require one hour of work per day; if she's still living in California she'll be making less than the state's $8 per hour minimum wage. Is this a case of old media cynically exploiting the homeless (and bloggers) or is it a great opportunity for the young woman? It might be both.
Whatever your opinion of the arrangement, it's hard to swallow Leanne Italie's Associated Press write-up calling it "a 21st century fairytale." Karp writes a blog called The Girl's Guide to Homelessness and says she's very excited about the opportunity. It makes me feel a little nauseous.
For a huge media brand that traffics in the culture of the wealthy and beautiful to win "compassion points" so cheaply seems ethically questionable. Ad sales for any pages Karp's writing appears on would likely be very profitable. She's put in front of the New York media circus as a poor unfortunate, in exchange for a famous magazine buying her breakfast each morning. Depending on her local laws, that rate of pay may not even be legal. The AP reports that Karp is being paid $150 per month and Karp links to the story without refutation of that key detail.
On the other hand, a gig with Elle is a huge opportunity. Blogging for pay is something only a few lucky people get to do. Having worked as an executive assistant in the past, adding a current engagement at Elle Magazine to her resume will be a big boost in Karp's search for full-time employment.
Still, Cinderella 2.0 ought to be paid at least the legal minimum hourly wage in California by a famous fashion magazine, ought she not?