Monday, December 17, 2007

Slow pay or no pay; freelancers are seriously cheesed off at The Walrus

The Walrus magazine was, at one time, considered a godsend to freelance writers, with public promises of a huge premium over usual per-word fees. Some even intervened and wrote to Revenue Canada on the magazine's behalf when it was struggling to get charitable status.

But the bloom is most definitely off the rose, as evidenced by a posting on the Toronto Freelance Editors and Writers list by veteran freelancer David Hayes.

Hayes tells of an (unnamed) writer who delivered a story for which he was supposed to be paid half on acceptance, half on publication (an unusual arrangement that is, as far as we know, unique to The Walrus) and months later hasn't received even the first payment.
"I can’t speak for whether staff members get their income direct-deposited into their accounts each month without fail," [says Hayes]. "But I know that many writers wait & wait & wait for even part of a fee that should, by all rights, be paid in full sometime during a reasonable editing process. These are the writers who provide The Walrus with all of its credibility, the people responsible (in collaboration with the magazine’s editors) for The Walrus’ many National Magazine Awards. Without whom, I will argue, The Walrus would no long exist except, perhaps, as some kind of educational charitable foundation putting on events and doing other laudable work. But not putting out a national magazine."
This list is read by many of the best freelancers in the country and such stories will only serve to make them wary of any dealings with The Walrus. How that can be good for it or its readers is hard to see.



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