Last week we told you that Regent/ Here Media, publisher of Out, The Advocate, and other gay titles, was ripping off freelancers. Oh, the tips that poured in! They are really deadbeats, apparently. New scathing complaints against the company, below.
- " I used to write for Gaywired, which was owned by Regent. I had a column in addition to doing freelance stories. I demanded to get paid (which were about six months on some invoices) and due to me demanding my checks, they cut my stories and only wanted to keep my column (which was successful for them). I quit the column. This site folded six weeks later."
- "I'm still owed over $3,000 from the company for work I did for Out.com last year. I also received sympathetic emails at the end of last year saying that they're doing their best to get payments out. I was told there was "a priority" list of writers to be paid and I was on that list — this was in January, and I've still seen nothing from the company. As tempted as I am to take them to small claims court, I've basically just resigned myself to the fact that I'll never see it."
- "I wrote a story for the Advocate that was assigned last May on new HIV therapies. I spent more time on this than I had on any story I had done for several years, for $1,000. The pay was relatively low, but it was on a topic I'm passionate about (the downfall of all freelance writers, right?). It was published in late November." He has not been paid yet.
- Several tipsters pointed out that Regent/ Here's websites are just as bad at paying up as their magazines are. For example: "The Advocate website published about a half dozen of my articles in 2009 and didn't pay me for two, without explanation. The editor has maintained communication but ignored all communications following up on those two articles and the non-payment, and the Advocate staff person who manages contracts has done the same. It's something of a relief to know I'm not the only one this has happened to, but it says a lot about the company's corporate ethics."
- This scathing rant from a former employee compares the entire company to a Ponzi scheme:
I am a former employee of Regent/here! media who was "laid off" from the company during their merger/acquistion of the PlanetOut properties. Let's just say the way they treated me during that process was an indication of how badly they treat all their employees - like expendable trash. The issues with not paying freelancers in a timely manner has been going on for years. Before Regent/here! acquired the Advocate/Out etc., they rarely ever paid freelancers for their other gay websites (most now defunct) in a timely manner. Our editor was constantly freaked out by having to keep freelancers (and sometimes staff) at bay when Regent would delay paying them for months on end. If a freelancer got too persistant, all contact was to be cut off with them until they either went away or the company eventually might pay them.
Once the company acquired the PlanetOut properties, the problem exploded because the company was even more lacking in ready funds. Basically, they aren't paying people because they don't have the money to pay them and they are putting them off over and over again until they do. It's like a ponzi scheme. Your content is bringing them traffic and advertising money that they are using to pay the freelancers for content they produced six months ago. When they get too behind, they fire staff or close down a property to 'produce' money rather than listening to ways they could do things more profitably and more efficiently. I know at least one person who was "laid off" because they dared suggest things could be done differently at the company to the benefit of all involved.
Regent pays their upper management ridiculous salaries while freelancers wait six months or more for a tiny paycheck. Management travels all over the world and stays in high-priced accommodations at Sundance and other events while their lower-level staffers work 50 hours a week for pennies. Bucking the corporate structure will get you fired in a heartbeat and you can expect to be lied to about what's going on with the company (and your department) on a daily basis.
If the gays out there had any sense, they wouldn't be going after the Mormons or boycotting Cracker Barrel, they'd be burning Advocate and Out in the rubbish can.
- And finally: an Overheard in NY-type humorous anecdote!
I work in the same building as the Out/Advocate offices (245 W 17 St) on the 11th floor. They have the 10th and 12th floors and we're on 11, so I regularly spend a lot of elevator time with their staff.
I always enjoy the time because I'm gay but fairly straight acting — you can't tell I like guys by how I'm dressed, unlike everybody who works there — and after 18 months I still get the "perceived straight guy" treatment us fags love to give breeders when we outnumber them in enclosed spaces. Lisps get lispier, wrists go limper, and conversations jump to references to lube or how "after last night I can't believe I'm not pregnant."
Anyway, after reading your post this morning I brought it up with the two OBVIOUSLY gay staffers I rode down the elevator with (really, they could tattoo "Insert cock" around their lips and they wouldn't look gayer) and their responses were priceless:
Gay #1 "Pfft, they can get in line like the rest of us."
Gay #2 "Behind me, sure!"
So obviously Regent is having trouble paying even its regular staff.