Journalists sue Consumers Digest over nonpayments
Two prominent business journalists are suing Consumers Digest after they were not paid for freelance articles they wrote for the publication.
Chuck Jaffe, the former mutual find columnist for MarketWatch.com, filed suit one month ago against the publication in Quincy District Court in Massachusetts claiming that he is owed $4,800 for one article he wrote for the publication and $2,600 he wrote for another article.
Payment for the articles — one was a financial forecast for 2017 while the other focused on undervalued stocks — was due on Jan. 15 and July 15, according his suit. Consumers Digest publisher Randy Weber promised Jaffe, who is now editor in chief of RagingBull.com, in April that he would be paid plus monthly interest.
In addition Debra Borchardt has filed suit in small claims court in Illinois against the publication.
“I wrote one story for Consumers Digest years ago and I was paid on time, so I didn’t think there would ever be a problem getting paid this time,” said Borchardt, who has worked for TheStreet.com and Women’s Wear Daily. “I made all my deliverables according to the contract and they even published the story. The contract said I would be paid within 45 days of the final draft. That day came and went and then I began to inquire about my payment.”
Borchardt, who started cannabis industry publication The Green Market Report last month, said she sent a certified letter with a copy of the contract requesting they honor it before filing suit.
“They have messed with the wrong journalist this time,” she said. Borchardt has a Dec. 1 court date on her case.
Publisher Weber did not respond to an email from Talking Biz News sent Friday requesting comment.
UPDATE: A third freelance journalist, Yael Grauer, told Talking Biz News that Consumers Digest has not paid $2,600, which was due July 10.
“I took them to collections, which didn’t work,” said Grauer. “I live in Arizona so I retained an attorney to avoid flying to Illinois. My attorney said he typically gives 21 days for people to respond after sending a demand for payment.”
A fourth freelancer, Jamie Bartosch, is also awaiting payment.
“Since July, they’ve owed me $2,600 for an in-depth story I did on the ride share industry,” said Bartosch. “They’ve been ignoring my calls and emails for months, so I’m preparing to file a lawsuit as well. Although, I’m afraid it’s gonna be like trying to squeeze water out of a rock.”
A fifth freelancer, Lea Radick, filed suit on July 19 in Chicago after not being paid $3,500 for an article about medical breakthroughs that was published in the March/April 2017 issue of Consumers Digest.
“On a personal note, I’ve had to take off two half days from work to attend court dates for this case, one of which was on Oct. 6, a week after my mother had suddenly and unexpectedly died,” said Radick. “I had to cut short my time at home with my family in New Jersey to fly back to Chicago for that court date –adding insult to injury.”
A sixth freelancer, Marilyn Zelinsky-Syarto, said she is owed $2,600 for an article that was published in March 2017. Her plan is to gather as many writers who are in the same situation as myself with Consumers Digest and work with the National Writers Union to go after the publication.
Other Consumers Digest writers can reach out to her directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. She also have started a Twitter handle consumersdigestowes and the address @consdigestowes.