In my neighborhood, I have a wizened old neighbor who is also a desperate alcoholic. Despite his troubles, we always say hi to each other and sometimes I pay him to cut my tiny yard. One day, he came to my door and asked me to borrow $50 dollars. This is an old man, I like him, and I feel bad for his troubles. I gave him the $50 bucks thinking that I will never see this money again but maybe it would help him.
Lo and behold, a week later, he shows up with the money down to the cent. I was pleasantly surprised and he and I are friendly to this day.
What do this old alcoholic and The Charleston City Paper have in common? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. Why? Because my old wino neighbor can put his hands on $50 dollars when he owes it to someone, something the City Paper can't or won't do.
What am I talking about?
If you don't know me, my name is Joseph (hi!) I'm a comic/writer and kids Jiu Jitsu coach. I wrote 5 articles for the City Paper last year, at least 2 of which were absolute bangers if I do say so myself :)
I was asked to do more writing because they wanted local contributions that were funny, and not just local politics or serious subjects. I'd like to think most of my pieces are/were funny, but more importantly, they were popular. Some got submitted for state level awards for humor. Some of them garnered more attention than the next 5 other articles combined.
I got attacked in the comments by the white secessionist party of South Carolina, I got shown love and retweeted by CEO of Fazoli's, and rumor has it a local politician almost wrote a rebuttal to my piece about real estate because he didn't understand that it was a joke. God, that would have been my ultimate success.
You would think with these tiny but verifiable successes that the City Paper would want to keep me and other contributors like me happy.
You'd be wrong.
Any time I have ever asked about money, I've always received replies that display how out of control the accounts payable department must be at the paper. No. one. knows. when you will get your money. They say 60-90 days, thats the official answer. That btw is bullshit. If I was a creative person trying to live from my ideas, I would be discouraged by that. Thankfully I am not relying on them.
After 2.5 months of waiting and assurances from the editor (who for what its worth I do like and I wish I could work with more, I wrote the person in charge of payment at CP, Noel Mermer.
(My first article came out Oct. 6th mind you, and I am writing him December 15th.)
Mr. Mermer said "we have paid through July. August will go out next week and sept the next. Sorry for any inconvenience."
They hadn't paid people for work from the summer. Holy shit. When asked further about this, he said it was because and I quote "cash is tight".
Man, it must be so awesome to not have to pay your bills because you just having a rough month. Congratulations on that Noel!
As I asked more and more former employees of City Paper, I learned that this is not only normal, but expected. People who are on the payroll at city paper get paid as they should, and I am happy to hear that. Many people who work at the paper are my friends, and I hate to say something bad about their employer, but they know this is true.
The City Paper has a bad reputation for paying people, on time, or sometimes even at all.
How do they get away with it?
Well, most people are just happy to be writing for something. I have to admit, in the beginning I was too. It was exciting to throw my ideas out to a bigger audience and in a different way than my normal stand up comedy experience.
But no one should be able to break a contract that they signed and not pay you for work you have done. No one should be able to get away with that.
Print media is a dying business, I get it. Business is hard, I get it. Big corporations take longer to pay out, I get it. Fine with all of that. But this isn't a one of thing, this is a habit, and you're either ok with them profiting off the work of people and lying about paying them or you are not.
I know that this means the city paper may try to black list me or ignore events I'm a part of and I don't care. This is some bully shit, and I loathe people who break their promises and I can not be bullied on this.
If you think its not ok for the city paper to stiff its contributors, let me get a hell yeah, and a share would be nice.
Ok, back to being funny.