*Ebony magazine missed its self-imposed Friday deadline for paying the thousands it owes freelance writers, according to Larry Goldbetter, president of the National Writers Union.
“One woman was paid a small invoice ($150) that predates the current owners,” Goldbetter said by email to Journal-isms. “Another, who was a real organizer and may have started #Ebonyowes, was paid right away ($1500), as soon as we contacted the company more than a month ago. Of all the 26 other freelancers we represent who are owed close to $60,000, all quiet.
“They were supposed to start a ‘rolling schedule’ based on the oldest invoices first. Everyone was to be paid in full by June 30.”
OTHER NEWS YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED: Ebony Magazine Said to Owe Thousands to Writers
Goldbetter previously announced that Renee Lewis, attorney for the publication, promised that the company would pay the writers within 30 days.
NBCBLK previously released a statement it received from Ebony that said, “This organization is fully committed to paying its writers and freelancers in their entirety and should have this issue resolved within the next 30 days. . . .”
In an interview with Adeshina Emmanuel for Columbia Journalism Review, CVG Group co-founder Willard Jackson attributed the magazine’s financial problems to prior ownership.
The CVG Group LLC purchased Ebony from Johnson Publishing Co. last year. On May 7, Chairman Michael Gibson said by email, “We have the list of everyone and are working to get them paid asap. Our apologies that this had taken this long to resolve. We will pay everyone what is owed.”
When Ebony’s June 30 deadline passed, Goldbetter wrote Thursday to his Ebony clients:
“As we head into the weekend and past EMO’s [Ebony Media Operations’] deadline, I just want you to know that you are not only fighting for your own pay, and for each other’s pay, but you are shaking things up in the industry and shedding light on the plague of non-payment to freelancers.
This was really reflected when the social media buzz that accompanied our press release reached 1.3 million people. And as you can see by this email chain, our numbers are growing by the day.
“Based on the very public stand you’ve taken, we have been contacted by freelancers who write for Uptown who want to fight for their money. And yesterday I heard from a freelancer who wrote this story about non-payment at Nautilus, a science magazine that isn’t paying [its] freelancers. He heard about Ebony and wanted NWU’s outlook on this for a follow-up story. And then there was a story about Latina Magazine, which hasn’t paid its staff writers in a month. For freelancers I’m sure [it’s] been much longer.
You are all doing something that can have a ripple effect far beyond EMO and your own invoice, as important as that is. On behalf of our entire union, I am grateful for the chance to be working with all of you. We are building something that will live long past your cashing your overdue EMO checks!
PS — I also heard about one EMO freelancer who is owed thousands of dollars and is facing eviction! They have received some short-term help and I hope they join us. . . .”