Payment for contributors: practices by magazines

An e-magazine has a schedule of payment whereby, if someone contributes, they will pay on the 5th (or whatever date) of the following month. This is already not a very contributor-friendly practice, because it could mean anything up to 4 weeks of delay in payment. But very well, contributors accept this.

Then the e-magazine says they will not pay the contributor for photographs or videos that go with the article. The contributor has an exchange of views with the magazine, and they agree to pay a token sum…very small… for the photos or videos. The contributor, once again, agrees.

Then the magazine sends a contract form which makes no mention of the payment for the photographs, and asks the contributor to sign the contract and send it. The contributor points out the error. A revised contract form is sent by the magazine.

Meanwhile, payment is made to the contributor…without the payment for the photographs being included. The contributor points out the mistake.

The magazine’s authorized representative apologizes, but says that the pending amount will be paid the next month. When the contributor points out that it is the magazine’s mistake, and says that payment should be made immediately, the magazine says that is the way the system works.

The contributor says, surely, the system has been installed by the magazine, and is not graven in stone. Surely it can be changed to correct the mistakes that may be committed?

Hiding behind the excuse, “This is the system, this is the way we do it” is, to me, defending a lapse that should be (and in this case, can be) corrected. It is an excuse which may be expected from stodgy old corporations, who are known for bad business practices…not a young, vibrant magazine.

Surely, a good system can be changed to taking care of such lapses, once they show up.

The height of absurdity, however, is when the magazine tells the contributor, “After all, the amount is very small, so why not let us pay next month?”

The amount does not matter…it’s the principle of the thing. Whether it’s Rs.5 or Rs. 5 lakh…if there has been a lapse on payment on the part of the magazine, the contributor should not be further penalized by a wait of another month.

It is also not very correct for the magazine to tell the contributor, “You can compare how we pay to the methods of others.” This is an irrelevant argument. Why should the contributor go around comparing payment methods? If there is a mistake in payment, the amount due should be paid without delay, and how other magazines pay has nothing to do with the matter.

And when the contributor sends an email pointing out all this, and does not get any response, until the contributor make a phone call, the problem is certainly aggravated in the mind of the contributor.

Contributors think that the newly-established magazines will have good systems. Contributors are, sadly, mistaken. The system continues to favour the magazine over the interests of the contributor, and magazines take refuge behind the age-old excuse of “This is how it is done”.

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