Business journalist Chuck Jaffe, the editor of RagingBull.com, writes about how he hasn’t been paid for stories he wrote for Consumers Digest.
Jaffe writes, “I wrote for Consumers Digest in the past; payment wasn’t always prompt, but it always arrived. So I took on one story last fall for the January issue, and then a second story due in the spring; normally, I don’t accept second assignments until the first is been paid, but the work was timely and Consumers Digests’ editors said there was no reason to believe my missing payment was anything but late.
“I promised to deliver, and did; I was taught that good journalists don’t accept assignments and leave editors hanging, no matter the reason.
“Consumers Digest publisher Randy Weber tried to convince me that payment was coming; in e-mails he acknowledged the debt, promised payment, and volunteered to pay interest at a clip of 1 percent per month. He said in phone calls that this was a temporary cash-flow situation, and promised a plan for partial payments.
“The magazine owes me $7,400 for the two pieces, without interest. More than half of that money was owed, contractually, as of last January; the rest was due in mid-July.
“I paid roughly 10 percent of what I am owed to hire an attorney and file suit; Consumers Digest has not responded to the court paperwork, and my lawyer expects us to have a default judgment soon.”
Chris Roush is the Walter E. Hussman Sr. Distinguished Professor in business journalism at UNC-Chapel Hill. He is a former business journalist for Bloomberg News, Businessweek, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, The Tampa Tribune and the Sarasota Herald-Tribune. He is the author of the leading business reporting textbook "Show me the Money: Writing Business and Economics Stories for Mass Communication" and "Thinking Things Over," a biography of former Wall Street Journal editor Vermont Royster.