Paste Magazine Freelancers Are Getting Screwed

In your class warrior Thursday media column: the media is congenitally unable to stop covering stupid stories, Mississippi's Fresh Air censor resigns, more theories of David Westin's departure, and Paste magazine freelancers are left high and dry.

  • The eternal quandary: everybody in the media knows that the Koran-burning pastor is a stupid, stupid story—and that the level of coverage it gets blows it way out of proportion. Yet when they write about even that aspect of it, they only add to the problem. The media's solution, of course: write about it anyhow. (Except the AP, which will cover it, but not show pictures of it, thereby satisfying no one). People luv stupid stories!

  • Judy Lewis, the head of Mississippi Public Broadcasting who recently canceled the show Fresh Air because it would offend the state's delicate sensibilities, has resigned for unexplained reasons.

  • Someone tells P6 that ABC boss David Westin quit because he was tired of firing people, which seems like a very generous interpretation. They also say a woman will succeed him, which seems, just, about time.

  • Paste Magazine folded its print edition last week and laid off most of its staff. The question on Paste-affiliated people's minds now: will the writers (and other vendors) get paid? We've heard from several Paste freelancers who say they're having trouble finding out about what will become of their unpaid debts. "Josh Jackson has been consistently ignoring my emails for six months despite a $500 unpaid invoice," says one. "I'm owed almost $2,700. Some of that goes back a year-and-a-half," says another. Other freelancers have similar stories. One forwarded us an apologetic email that Paste editor Josh Jackson sent last month:

    I was way too optimistic in both thinking things were turning around for us and for thinking that investment money was coming in. We've been in survival mode for way too long and dug way too big a hole. Unless the rug is about to get pulled from under me again, the days of delayed payments should be behind us soon. Glad to hear there will be no hard feelings if we can get you paid, and I'll understand the hard feelings if we can't.

    We've asked Jackson for an update on payment status, but he hasn't gotten back to us. The problem in these situations tends to be that the magazine has no money. Which is something that magazines should think of before commissioning freelance work.