‘A cautionary tale for anyone considering freelancing for The Daily’

June 10, 2011
Category: Uncategorized

Romenesko Letters
Barbara Correa says she got an assignment from The Daily about the business implications of Oprah’s final program and was offered 75 cents a word. She wrote the story, turned it in and got an acknowledgement from an editor. “That was the last I ever heard from [him]. The man is now MIA. He hasn’t responded to repeated phone calls or emails,” she writes in a letter to Romenesko. “I understand that in the current environment of media chaos, editors are often left on their own to somehow deliver brilliant, cheap content in the blink of an eye. That means writers sometimes get shuffled around or ignored. I get that. But for an editor of a much-publicized magazine backed by Rupert Murdoch, it seems a bit extreme to make a work for hire assignment and then completely blow off the other party.” I emailed The Daily editor for a response and he promised to pay Correa a kill fee.


From BARBARA CORREA: I just wanted to share this as a cautionary tale for anyone considering freelancing for The Daily:

Like a lot of other laid off staff reporters and editors, I was looking to keep my hand in and try to continue bringing in a little money reporting and writing. So, I posted an ad on Gorkana stating my credentials, and that I was available for freelance “commissions.” I received several promising responses, including one from Jebediah Reed. Jeb identified himself as an editor at The Daily, Rubert Murdoch’s new iPad effort, and asked if I’d like to pitch some story ideas.

I spent some time putting together a list of sluglines and how I planned to flesh out each idea. About a week later, Jeb asked if I’d like to write about the business implications of Oprah’s final program taping in May.

We had a phone conversation. He made the assignment verbally. He offered me 75 cents a word — quite decent in the current landscape — gave me a deadline, an idea of length and hung up. I reported out the story with three solid sources, wrote it up as proposed and fired it off. This was May 22. The next day, I got an email, sent from Jeb’s iPhone:

“Got it, thanks,” it said. “Targetting Wed to run. Will be in touch a.m tmrw.”

That was the last I ever heard from Jeb. The man is now MIA. He hasn’t responded to repeated phone calls or emails. [He responded promptly to my inquiry and promised to pay Correa a kill fee. – Romenesko]

I understand that this is not all that unusual. I understand that in the current environment of media chaos, editors are often left on their own to somehow deliver brilliant, cheap content in the blink of an eye. That means writers sometimes get shuffled around or ignored. I get that.

But for an editor of a much-publicized magazine backed by Rupert Murdoch, it seems a bit extreme to make a work for hire assignment and then completely blow off the other party. It goes way beyond an HR director or hiring editor failing to respond to a qualified job applicant, or ignoring a post-interview query, or failing to respond to a list of article pitches. Such slights have become routine in the new courtesy-lacking environment. But promising a payment for a job well done and then playing deaf?

The Daily can, and should, be better than this. Thanks for listening.

Barbara Correa

———–

The Daily’s Reed sent me this response:

“Our growing cast of freelancers are a critical part of the news team at The Daily. That’s why we pay well (as the writer notes), we pay fast, and in the extremely rare occasion when an invoice slips through the cracks for a few days, we settle up and offer our sincere apologies.”

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