Over the weekend, we posted this video of Marina Shifrin, a former staffer for the weird Taiwanese news animator Next Media Animation—the folks who make funny viral-y videos out of our silly little news happenings—quitting her job in a highly public fashion while dancing to Kanye West. The video went viral, as videos often will, and left viewers with the impression that NMA is a sweatshop of sorts where traffic is valued over the art (for shame!). This morning, an NMA executive kindly requested equal time.
Mark Simon, a commercial director at NMA who is frequently described as the company's spokesman, sent the following email to us, which we are reproducing in full. The gist: Marina is a nice girl who was paid well and worked well and we can't really figure out why she's mad at us. Simon has agreed to hang out in the comments for a bit to answer any questions you may have about Shifrin, life in Taiwan, or what the process of making weird funny viral-y animations from our silly news happenings entails.
I am Mark Simon, I am the one who hired Marina Shifrin, who danced her way to fame in her resignation video which she sent to Gawker.
Currently, I am one of the senior executives of the group and she reports up to the folks who work for me. Marina actually thinks enough of me to have given me a call the Thursday before she released this to say that she was resigning, which I appreciated. I asked her to tell her bosses, as I took our call to be in confidence. The first her boss saw was the video.
Look, I actually like Marina a great deal. Marina herself has said we are a great company to work for, and I do not think she intended to hurt anyone, but it has happened.
There are a few things I would like just make a point of and if there is an interest I will be happy to be asked any question. (We do not have a PR department and we are wide open to any and all questions).
There is an image now of a sweat shop, we are not. Marina made USD$42k per year. She had a 40 hr work week, 5 days a week. There is no expectation of OT on our behalf, you finish your shift and leave. In our office most folks leave when their shift is up as you work on news flow.
Also we ask journalists to work one month per year on the midnight shift as we just need to cover the shift. We pay a differential of 30% for these hours, which I know are hard hours to work.
Look, we do news animations. We are not investigative reporters. Two international outlets have asked us for comment, and her video is up on nearly 300 sites. We think we have something to say about this and we are hoping Gawker will have us.
I am not looking to slam her, nor am I engaged in anything but trying to help some other managers in their early 30's, understand why the young lady they hung out with just cashiered them. I don't think she meant for it to be seen as so harsh, but we are getting some nasty attacks on our managers, who she says she respects.
I just want any chance to answer any questions, answer anything on Skype or on phone.
I am not spitting nastiness at Marina, but in her 9 months with us we sent her to Hong Kong twice, to Thailand for a media conference, and she just came back a month ago from twobweeks in LA and NYC where she was pitching animation stories. She logged 170 hours the last 3 months in creative time working up ideas to pitch. She is a hard worker, but I cannot foresee results or always give her the best story of the day.
We let her talk to all the press she wanted, we encouraged her stand-up, and frankly my folks in Taiwan are a bunch of granola's... They are nice folks. We have 600 employees and I have not one outstanding case in labor tribunal. That is no small feat in Taiwan.
I though Gawker played this fair and so if anyone wants anything we are open.