Debunking the Myth That L.A. Weekly Isn't Paying Its Contributors
L.A. Weekly

Debunking the Myth That L.A. Weekly Isn't Paying Its Contributors

One of the persistent myths about post-sale L.A. Weekly is that it's not paying writers or photographers who contribute to the paper and website. That is 100 percent false.

All writers and photographers have been paid by Semanal Media, the Weekly's new owner, and that will not change.

This misimpression can be traced back to one early, misguided Twitter solicitation, created by one of the investors on his own, seeking unpaid contributions. (Crowdsourcing, as this is called, is becoming popular these days as news outlets pinch pennies and cut staff.) Why would he do that? Because the Weekly needed to continue printing a weekly paper and updating its website, and that requires content. More than half the editorial staff had been let go, so there was a dearth of content providers. It was an attempt to get content flowing quickly as the staffing question was addressed.

The Weekly's critics seized on that one tweet and misinterpreted it to mean that the Weekly was no longer going to pay contributors, and was only going to run content it got for free.

There are two problems with that assumption. First, some people do actually want to write for the Weekly enough that they'll do it for free. Those people often have an agenda, which is why the Weekly has not accepted their pitches.

Second, the solicitation was for unpaid contributors. It said nothing about whether other writers would be paid. It didn't say all writers would have to write for free if they wanted to see their work in the Weekly. Its intent was to expand the pool of contributors for L.A. Weekly.

Everyone contributing to L.A. Weekly, freelance or staff, writer or photographer, is paid. Rates vary widely, depending on the length and complexity of a given piece or photo shoot. But everyone gets paid.

Doors drummer John Densmore is an exception to that statement — he didn't get paid, but that was his choice. When he sent me an unsolicited piece he'd written, I specifically asked him whether he'd been a paid contributor in the past. (This stuff didn't used to be part of my job as copy chief.) He told me he didn't need to be paid. Then he went to Twitter and tweeted that he was unhappy about the changes at the Weekly, despite my cordial exchanges with him. He said he hadn't been paid for his latest article — which, again, was true — adding, “I don’t need the dough.”. But when I contacted him again, and said the Weekly would be more than happy to pay him, he turned it down. He said, "No, Lisa, you didn't need to pay me" and explained that his tweet was because he felt bad for the fired writers, a sentiment I share.

Some writers had some difficulty getting paid for pieces they wrote in November. The reason for this is simple: The editors were tasked with filling out the payment sheet, and the day they all got fired was the day they were supposed to do that. Obviously, they had other things on their minds and didn't get around to it. [Editor's note: The former editors have told me my timeline is wrong. I apologize for the incorrect statement.] It took the writers a little while to realize they were missing checks, and then they started emailing me. I responded immediately to every single email and made sure they were all paid. I don't work in the finance department, but they have been as focused as I have on making sure every single freelancer gets the payment owed them.

If you're a freelancer who thinks you're owed money by L.A. Weekly, please email me. I will make sure you get paid what you're owed. The new L.A. Weekly is a work in progress, but it will not be built on the back of unpaid labor.

Correction: Due to an editing error, a paragraph regarding the former owners of the Weekly has been removed. 

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