The Troubling Death of an Intern
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Four days before Armando Montaño’s body was found in a Mexico City apartment elevator shaft, the 22-year-old Colorado Springs wire service intern reported on an airport confrontation in which two Mexican federal police officers suspected of working for drug traffickers opened fire, killing three real policemen.
Mexican authorities continue to investigate the circumstances of Montaño’s death, even as colleagues, teachers and friends were remembering him as a friendly, spirited young man with a likely brilliant future ahead.
But another description also stuck in my head: the Associated Press, the organization for which he was interning and which inexplicably had given him a by-line on the drug related murder story, called him “an aspiring journalist.”
There was a time, not that long ago, when newspaper and journalism interns — even the brilliant, “aspiring” ones — fetched coffee and clippings for full-time, working reporters and editors. Occasionally, they accompanied staff reporters on assignments, sometimes as kind of pain-in-the-ass junior sidekicks learning first-hand.
That role began changing as news organizations ran into financial trouble, producing more layoffs than investigative stories, and with editors seeing interns as cheap labor to fill increasing holes that the economy created on reporting staffs.
Here is Armando’s last piece for the AP:
If you want to feel even worse about the tragic death of this young man, watch the 44 second video here.