Tag Archive: payment
This is making me panic as a Photo Journalism major. -top voted comment discussing Who Pays Photographers? at reddit
Pricing journalism always feels like a dark art. Following the online payment for journalism back-and-forth last week, Manjula Martin started collecting payment rates for writers at the Who Pays Writers? tumblr. Following that lead, one of our friends set up Who Pays Photographers?, a collection of anonymously-submitted reports of rates paid for (primarily) assignment work. Not long after the site took off, I got a call from the creator concerned about the popularity of the site (averaging 15,000 unique visits a day), and we talked a bit about what purpose the site might serve and how to make it a reliable resource. You can submit rates anonymously through the site.
An interview at PDN tells a little more about what goes into collecting this information and the goals. You can see all of the submitted rates paid to freelancers around the globe, from Gazeta Wyborcza’s $26 day rate to Forbes’ $1250 day rate including assistant and digital fee. The entries also have notes about contractual terms and the time it takes to receive payment. It’s not always a rosy picture, though that’s hardly a surprise.
The response to Who Pays Photographers? has been generally positive, spreading quickly via twitter, facebook, and reddit. At reddit and elsewhere, though, people have been dismayed by the low fees for most photojournalism.
I’m of the opinion that Who Pays Photographers? is an incredibly important resource. While many organizations and blogs work hard to educate freelancers about the business of photography, the actual fees paid for assignment or stock are often kept secret by photographers (though some do publish rate cards). The best way to improve our lot is to be honest and open about what it’s like to work in photography, and a major part of that is a conversation about money, since we all know exposure doesn’t pay the bills.
Make sure to submit some of the rates for your assignment work. I have already, and you should, too.
At Popular Science, we’re pretty good about paying for work; I’ve certainly never asked someone to write a piece for free (photography, sadly, is a totally different story. I feel for photographers!). -Popsci.com editor Dan Nosowitz in a discussion between editors on paying writers
There’s been a lot of talk in the past few days after Nate Thayer posted on his blog about an Atlantic.com editor asking him to write for free. There’s a good summary of the events here. To any freelancers, it’s a common enough occurrence. If you haven’t seen Fuck You, Pay Me, start there. The Atlantic has issued an apology to Thayer, no doubt due to the attention given Thayer’s blog post.
One of the most interesting things to come out of the discussion, though, is a branch thread (?) involving editors and writers from a number of well-known online and print publications on the subject of paying writers for work. It’s called How Much Should A Writer Be Paid, If Anything. The quote above, about the sorry state of payment for photography for online journalism, is cherry-picked from well down in the discussion, but the rest is definitely worth a read for insight into how online publications compensate their contributors. It’s a very interesting look behind the curtain of pageviews and budgets.
And while the situation for writers isn’t rosy, the quote at the top shows it can be even worse for photographers (as we all know). I was happy to read last year (search for “Well, I think it has to do with paying people”) that the NYT’s Lens blog has started paying photographers. Ironic for this discussion, the Atlantic’s In Focus blog, one of the premiere photography showcases online, doesn’t pay photographers last I checked (see update below; the blog does pay for wire service subscriptions). As more and more media entities get into the online photography game, it’s important to make sure photographers are paid fairly for their work.
Update: Thanks to In Focus editor Alan Taylor for adding to the discussion with his comment down below.
Have you ever been stiffed by a client? There isn’t a lot of recourse for freelancers beyond sending in invoice after invoice after invoice. A New York state law has now been proposed which would hold deadbeat clients responsible for money owed to freelancers. The Freelancer Payment Protection Act (S4129/A6698) aims to help out freelancers who haven’t paid.
The legislation is gaining traction: it’s passed through the New York State Assembly and has gotten support from both Democrat and Republican state legislators. If the act becomes a law, freelancers will be able to file complaints with the New York Department of Labor about clients who have not paid their bills and allow them to collect 100% of the fees owed to them in addition to legal fees and interest. It’s a small step, and would only apply to freelancers in New York, but it isn’t a small matter. According to the Freelancers Union, “in 2009, New York State’s self-employed lost $4.7 billion due to client nonpayment, and the state lost $323 million in tax revenue.”
You can help in a few ways. Sign your name in support of the Freelancer Payment Protection Act; if you’re in New York, contact your state legislators and tell them to support the Freelancer Payment Protection Act; if you’re anywhere else, contact your legislators and suggest a similar law.
Related required viewing: Fuck you, Pay me – a discussion of adventures in contracts, negotiation, and payment
Bad contract and bad payment practices: Reader’s Digest Publishing Australia and Time Inc. (via JP Morgan)Dec 7, 2009 by M. Scott Brauer 1 Comment »
Bad Contract: We’ve got a number of readers in Australia, and perhaps this is old news to them, but it’s instructive to freelancers everywhere. Reader’s Digest Australia has just foisted a new contract on its contributors, and it’s a doozy. Take a look at this clause:
RDA shall have the exclusive right set out in section 2 herein [exclusive worldwide rights to publish and distribute], for a period of 24 months which shall commence from the date of publication of the photos and thereafter the rights set out in secton 2 shall be read as non -exclusive for an indefinite period.
Lightstalkers (email me or comment here if you need an invitation, by the way) and Kenneth Jarecke have a clause-by-clause analysis of the contract. The best thing to do with contracts like these is to just say “no.” There’s no way to make a living releasing work compensated at normal editorial day rates with such expansive rights being relinquished.
Bad payment practices: Time Warner’s payment vendor, JP Morgan, has unveiled a new payment plan for all suppliers. Essentially a codified 2/10 net 30 payment program, all suppliers are required to pay a fee to Time Warner if they want to be paid on time. Ranging from 4 percent fee for payment within 3 days to a .5 percent fee for payment in 25 days. John Harrington also notes that the fee is for an acceleration of approved payments, rather than an acceleration of payment. So, you’ve still got to wait the 30-90 days for the payment to be approved and then you’ve got to pay a fee if you don’t want to wait another 30 days on top of that. JP Morgan sees this model of payment, that is, exploiting small vendors’ need for cash as a way to make more money, as a “lucrative tool”. From JP Morgan’s explanation:
“There is another large pool of suppliers…the non-strategic suppliers. These suppliers are typically small to mid-size suppliers…they are also the hungriest for cash and much more likely to accept discounts versus strategically sourced suppliers. Understanding your supplier’s need for cash is a key to success.” -JP Morgan article
Gawker’s report, with interesting discussion, points out: “Given how desperate freelancers are to be PAID NOW, largely because companies like Time Inc. never pay them on time, this is a pretty genius idea.” John Harrington’s Photo Business News & Forum has good analysis, as well.
For commiseration: Check out Clients from Hell and ClientCopia, growing collection of client horror stories from designers and other creative professionals, this short about what would happen if the vendor-client relationship occurred in real world situations, and this brilliant exchange between a designer and a client who wants him to work for free (the client in that case is none-too-pleased with it being published and claims it is a hoax, by the way. Others see no reason to believe either side.).
Gawker asked its readers to share their horror stories of late payment for freelance work and ranked the 10 worst late payment offenders in print (though, RadarOnline seems an odd inclusion for a list ostensibly about print journalism). The graph above records the number of days between invoice and payment for freelance work. The Brooklyn Paper is the worst offender, allegedly taking almost 2 years to pay a writer a $40 fee. The Brooklyn Paper’s editor Gersh Kuntzman responds in the comments, though doesn’t dispute the meat of the allegation. More freelancers share bad experiences in the comments, as well. Of note, also, ESPN Magazine and the Village Voice get recognition for very prompt payment.