With the Ministry of Labour choking on unpaid internships in the rag trade, it seems This Magazine, progressive conscience of the Canadian publishing industry, has begun a bold experiment with unpaid writers.
Ottawa freelance typist Paul Park, whose career reached its sorry apex as a Frank contributor in the nineties, wrote two pieces for This. The first, a thumb-sucker on what the merger of the CAW and CEP unions into Unifor meant for the NDP, ran in May/June 2013 issue. A bit on the Nepean Redskins football team changing its name to something less racist appeared last January.
When Park submitted his copy for the NDP article in February 2013, he asked section editor Kim Fu when he could expect payment. It, er, depends on fundraising, she replied, but if he hadn’t heard by the end of the year, he should let her know. By the end of 2013, with the dough for one story outstanding and another waiting to be published, Park’s queries grew more frequent and insistent, but from Fu he heard sweet F.A.
After the invoice ripened a few more months, Park shimmied up the org chart to This editrix Lauren McKeon. Nada. Finally, he whinged to publisher Lisa Whittington-Hill, who apologized and promised a cheque covering both pieces would be forthcoming in June.
But when Labour Day rolled around and he still hadn’t been paid for his labours, Park got pissy, emailing unions who advertise in This and informing them of the rag’s relaxed approach to paying contributors.
“I am sure that you would not want to support a publication whose ill-treatment of its workers is in direct contradiction to its supposed progressive beliefs,” he wrote. “I hope that you will reconsider your backing of a magazine that abuses its writers this way.”
Yo, Paul! Whose House ’94? Cheque’s in the mail!