A Tough Decision to Make

@Raelove (16813)
Saco, Maine
August 24, 2016 1:07pm CST
It was with great sadness last night that I advised the new managing editor of our local paper that I would no longer be submitting articles to him for my weekly nature column. With a few breaks in between, I started writing nature articles for that newspaper back in 2004. Before that, I had served as a local correspondent, but stopped doing it after I got out of college in 1996. When the paper was bought out, the new editor wasn't interested in my work. After he left, I emailed the new managing editor to offer my nature essays pro bono. At the time, I saw it as a way to give back to the community and to get people more involved in the beautiful natural world around them. He left the paper in 2014, but by that point, I was working with two younger female editors who were always available to me and who kept the lines of communication going between us. I was involved in other projects at the time, so I suggested cutting back to a column every other week, and they replied by asking me to stay on and to petition the new publisher for some sort of payment. Up till then, my only payment had been a free subscription to the paper, but since the editor I'd first approached was gone, I decided that I would no longer give my work away. Almost from the get-go, I had problems getting paid. I'd submit a bill at the end of a month, and should ideally have been paid within a week or two. The waiting period kept getting longer and longer, to the point where I was waiting almost two MONTHS to get paid, and not until I'd badgered them with emails until I was sick of it. Fast-forward to 2016, and yet another new administration to deal with, and despite more apologies and promises to "look into it," here I was last night wondering where the payment was for my June and July articles, and I had just finished a third one for August. So, I finally came to a decision and emailed it to the editor. I told him that, due to the ongoing problem of nonpayment, I'd decided to discontinue the column, and I asked that all money due me be remitted in a timely way. I heard from the bookkeeper early this morning, and learned that SHE is leaving, too!!! But before she does that, she promised to expedite my payment and to let me know if/when it's sent out. I really hated to do this, as I have so loved writing this column. I am passionate about nature, and I hope that in the six years I spent working on it, I was able to inspire others to become passionate as well. I'm not sure where I'll go from here on out. I may try to pitch my idea to another small local paper, or I may just go back to working on other projects, including my ebooks. The irony in all this is that the newspaper industry is all about communicating information to the public. Yet, their own in-house communication is seriously lacking if they can't pay their freelancers on time each month. They ran an ad awhile back looking for more freelancers, and I remember wishing there had been a way to warn people that, sure, it's a fun job, but don't expect to get paid until they're ready to pay you. It was a tough decision to make, but I made it. At the very least, I think I gave them many opportunities to make this right, and I am glad that I made it. (Public Domain Image)
13 people like this
11 responses
@GardenGerty (99319)
• United States
24 Aug 16
It does not seem to make good business sense. I worked as a free lancer for a broker out of India and this was one of my many problems. Timely payment keeps good employees and keeps them going strong.
4 people like this
@Raelove (16813)
• Saco, Maine
24 Aug 16
That's right. If they had paid on time every time, I'd still be working for them. As I see it, it's their loss.
3 people like this
@marlina (73884)
• Canada
24 Aug 16
@Raelove It is their loss for sure and I am sure that your readers will miss your column.
1 person likes this
@Raelove (16813)
• Saco, Maine
24 Aug 16
@marlina I'm sure they will, as I had a good following. I feel bad that I will be depriving them, but I also couldn't see just donating my work to this paper anymore.
@louievill (18662)
• Philippines
24 Aug 16
Could it be a sign that the newspaper industry is going bust? Think it's one of the businesses most hard hit by the computer technolgy age, I realy hope you get your back pay and continue your passion somewhere else there is always a better place for passionate people in what they do.
2 people like this
@Raelove (16813)
• Saco, Maine
24 Aug 16
Of course it is. And despite the many times I asked them to be upfront with me and let me in on why I had to practically beg for my money, they'd just put me off with "Oh, sorry," till that just wan't cutting it anymore. I have other ideas, and now that I don't have to worry about this anymore (till after I get my money, that is), I'll be less stressed.
2 people like this
@louievill (18662)
• Philippines
24 Aug 16
@Raelove correct, stressless passion is better and more effective
1 person likes this
@Raelove (16813)
• Saco, Maine
24 Aug 16
@louievill Sure is.
1 person likes this
@divalounger (2252)
• United States
24 Aug 16
I am sure that you are making the right decision. I know this must have been a difficult decision to make though. Anytime you have to chase the money, it is never a good thing--
2 people like this
@Raelove (16813)
• Saco, Maine
24 Aug 16
No, it's not. I read a great quote awhile back about how foolish it is for an author to give his or her work away. I wish I could remember who said it, but it was all I kept thinking about while I pondered my dilemma. I think I gave them plenty of time--almost two years--to get this right. It became obvious to me that they never would.
1 person likes this
• United States
24 Aug 16
@Raelove You gave them maybe more thn you should have--and I think we have all done that--you sound like you have a big heart
2 people like this
@Raelove (16813)
• Saco, Maine
24 Aug 16
@divalounger Thanks. I like to think I do. I've had other issues in my life where I went way beyond the pale before finally doing something decisive. I take a lot, but when I reach the point where I've had enough, that's it. And I reached it last night.
1 person likes this
@Corbin5 (106276)
• United States
24 Aug 16
It seems like you did the right thing to do. Frustration due to late payments and engaging in constant contacting regarding late payments is more effort than it is worth, in my opinion. You have many avenues open to you now.
2 people like this
@Raelove (16813)
• Saco, Maine
24 Aug 16
I think so, thanks. That was getting so frustrating! I feel relieved now and am eager to get that back pay so I can put this all behind me.
2 people like this
@marguicha (94653)
• Chile
24 Aug 16
I think that you made the right decision. One thing is to offer to work pro bono and yet another is to not be paid when due.
2 people like this
@Raelove (16813)
• Saco, Maine
24 Aug 16
Thanks. That distinction was made when the former publisher agreed to pay me, and I honored his requirements to the letter. I think I may have done them a favor anyway, as that paper has deteriorated to just a few pages each day of nonsense. No great loss from that perspective...
1 person likes this
@celticeagle (118254)
• Boise, Idaho
25 Aug 16
You have really had a go round with this place. I wrote for several years for a group of online sites and enjoyed it alot. I had trouble getting paid from some of them too. Then suddenly they started closing their doors and now there is only about a third of them left. I dislike change so much. Communication is so important in every aspect of our lives. I hope you find another outlet for your nature writing.
1 person likes this
@Raelove (16813)
• Saco, Maine
25 Aug 16
I, too, wrote for online sites. But when their money became hard to get, that affected everyone who wrote for them. Being the only one that I know of who had this issue made it even more irritating. I wrote for this paper many years ago, and I recall it being hard then to get paid. They're a small local outfit whose readership is shrinking. They've gone from a couple dozen pages to roughly 10, so it definitely is a dying medium.
1 person likes this
@celticeagle (118254)
• Boise, Idaho
26 Aug 16
@Raelove .....I'd be searching for another place. I get a email newsletter telling me of different mags that are paying. I could share that with you if it might be of help.
1 person likes this
@Raelove (16813)
• Saco, Maine
26 Aug 16
@celticeagle I am going to expand my blogs again. I also have other writing projects that I will now have time to get back to. But thanks. I'll keep that in mind in case I would like that info.
1 person likes this
@JudyEv (123167)
• Bunbury, Australia
25 Aug 16
There is only so much you should have to put up with and it seems you've been very patient. I do hope another paper will take advantage of your skills in this area. It's really unprofessional not paying you for your work without a lot of reminding.
1 person likes this
@Raelove (16813)
• Saco, Maine
25 Aug 16
It was a hard decision to make, as I kept weighing the good the column was doing against what little they were paying me. On some levels, I'm somewhat put off that the money issue decided it. But it wasn't just that. It was the frustration of not being able to expect payment without having to literally beg for it. THAT was the humiliating part. If I were rich, or more comfortable than I am, I might have considered going back to doing it pro bono, but maybe less frequently. I'll never know now. I gave up more than just that column. I gave up a freedom and autonomy in the newspaper world that most writers never enjoy unless they become big names. But it's a done deal now, and I am going to move on from there.
1 person likes this
@JudyEv (123167)
• Bunbury, Australia
25 Aug 16
@Raelove Hopefully someone else will see the worth of such a column of yours - worth in both senses of the word. :0
1 person likes this
@Raelove (16813)
• Saco, Maine
25 Aug 16
@JudyEv Judy, if they had only been open and upfront, as I asked many times what the problem was. Since those two awesome gal editors left last year, there has been little to no communication at all. While it was nice to be left alone and to my own devices, it was extremely frustrating when I did have issues and no one ever responded. Or if they did, they'd say things like "That's not my department, blah blah blah..." I'll miss the connection to my readers, but I will not miss the frustration. I can share my message through my blogs, which I've neglected. Where there's a will, there's a way!
1 person likes this
@Susan2015 (20579)
• United States
24 Aug 16
It's ironic that they are in the communication business but seem to have issues communicating.
1 person likes this
@Raelove (16813)
• Saco, Maine
24 Aug 16
Yes, isn't it now...I did have great communication way back when with those two gals, but that ended once they both left. That was the writing on the wall, as all their best people were leaving.
1 person likes this
@Susan2015 (20579)
• United States
25 Aug 16
@Raelove Maybe you can find somewhere else for your column.
1 person likes this
@Raelove (16813)
• Saco, Maine
25 Aug 16
@Susan2015 I may try. But not getting paid wasn't the only reason I stopped it. I've been doing it for almost 7 years, and I was honestly starting to run out of ideas and material. So I think it was time to stop and move on to other things.
• Japan
13 Aug
Newspapers are kind of going the way of the dinosaur, it seems to me. I would go with ebooks if I were you.
1 person likes this
@Raelove (16813)
• Saco, Maine
13 Aug
Thanks...I've done that. Not having much success, but at least I don't have anyone "real" to deal with as far as getting paid goes.
• United States
25 Aug 16
i don't blame ya, hon. if'n they aint gonna hold to their agreement, 'tis time to jest move'n. no doubt yer articles did help folks, otherwise they'd not printed 'em fer so long :)
1 person likes this
@Raelove (16813)
• Saco, Maine
25 Aug 16
It was a tough decision, but one that had to be made.
1 person likes this
@CinnamonGrl (5807)
• Paradise, California
24 Aug 16
I bet you can find another market for the columns. Try the other papers and see if they are better about payment. That's so disappointing.
1 person likes this
@Raelove (16813)
• Saco, Maine
24 Aug 16
It is. I kept hoping they'd step up, but they never did. I was always faithful to my end of the bargain, but they never were to their.