Nov 12, 2008, 11:19AM

Tales from a flailing industry

A freelance writer and blogger had some trouble tracking down a check that was owed to him by Manhattan Media, whose magazines are taking a hit in light of the financial crisis. This is what the publishing industry looks like in the trenches nowadays.

For the record, we at Splice have never placed a disgruntled writer on the Watch List. (Any company that knows what they're doing simply "disposes" of their disgruntled freelancers quietly):

I left this morning, entered the building, handed my ID over to the security guard, and told him I was going up to the Manhattan Media office. My name had been placed on the building’s “Watch List #1.” I told this friendly guard, who laughed over the cautionary subwindow on his screen, that I had not been placed on any watch list before, but that he could watch me as long as he liked, particularly if he remained suspicious of my intentions. Perhaps in watching, he might see something that I hadn’t observed in the mirror. Or perhaps, I also argued, I could watch him and put him on my own private “Watch List #2.” Perhaps we could generate thousands of Watch Lists and share the results of all this watching with interested parties. I stood around for a while, and he then let me go up.


I am posting this episode publicly, in the event that any former 02138 contributor or any Manhattan Media freelancer experiences similar problems. Freelancers are often ridiculed, implored to “get a real job” by those who have never had to struggle to collect checks like this. But freelancing is a real job, and it frequently involves working 80-90 hours a week to get by. For those who work nine-to-five, I assure you that I get to work earlier and stop work later than you. Contracts exist for a reason. And they must be upheld. Any company who commissions freelancers must have the maturity and the professionalism to understand that freelancers are as vital as the full-time staff. We also have rent and bills to pay.


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