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Ebony Magazine Delinquent on Writer Payments

July 8th 2017
The Authors Guild supports the fundamental principle that authors, like any other workers, have a right to be paid for their work. While it’s becoming increasingly common for publications to ask contributors to write for free—a practice we don’t condone—at least it’s the author’s decision to do so, where, for instance, they believe that the exposure will compensate for the lack of pay. But recently we’ve been seeing prestigious publications hiring writers under contracts where they agree to pay them within a fixed amount of time, but then not paying up. That’s just what’s been happening to Ebony magazine contributors recently, and we’ve heard of incidents of similar treatment by other publications. We cannot tolerate this kind of blatant violation of freelance contract terms, and we must ensure that it stops. Dozens of writers have taken to social media in recent weeks to protest Ebony’s poor payment practices. The National Writers Union (“NWU”) has estimated that there may be as many as 50 freelancers owed more than $200,000. After the hashtags #EbonyOwes and #EbonyStillOwes began trending, and the NWU applied pressure, the magazine promised in a June 3 statement that it would have the issue resolved within 30 days. But as of today, some writers still haven’t been paid. The NWU is representing freelance journalists owed money by Ebony, and we are supporting their efforts. We’d like to collect more information about both the extent of Ebony’s failure to pay and the extent of this practice at other publications. If you’re a journalist who’s been the victim of late or non-payment by Ebony or another publication in the last several years, please send us a message containing the name of the publication and a brief account of the circumstances using the contact button below or via email to staff@authorsguild.org. Let us know whether we can share the information with the NWU and if you would like us to keep your name confidential.

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