I’m going to use this blog posting to make a complaint against a magazine that has apparently decided not to pay me for several articles and book reviews I wrote for them. I am due approximately $1,200 from the magazine America in WWII. And although $1,200 is not a great sum of money to most people, to me, integrity and payment for services rendered mean more than the money. But I won’t kid you that money isn’t important. It obviously is, and I don’t have to go into a side rant about economics to prove my point. Simply put, when you do a job for someone, you expect to get paid. For me, this expectation continues on, almost two years since my first article appeared in the magazine.
Several months ago, I had a couple of articles and book reviews appear in the magazine America in WWII. The magazine is concerned with the American home front during the war. The viewpoint is of those Americans who served and fought during the world’s deadliest conflict. I had (and have) contracts with the editors of the magazine, in writing, that they are to make payment to me within 180 days of an article’s appearance. They are long overdue in payment. The two articles written for America in WWII by myself were:
“Day of the Kamikazes,” which appeared in the February-March 2017 issue, nearly TWO years ago. The second article, “Pearl Harbor MIA,” appeared almost a year ago now in the December 2017 issue. I also read three books and wrote reviews on each of them for the magazine. The editors sent me contracts for the three reviews as well, stating I’d be paid $60 per review. Adding together what I’m owed for the reviews and two full-length articles, the total works out to a little over $1,200.
I wrote a third article, “Two Tries to End a Threat,” which appeared in the special issue: WWII Carrier War: The Battle of Midway and Beyond, focusing on the Battles of the Eastern Solomons and the Battle of Santa Cruz Islands. This special issue appeared in the summer of 2017. I only received payment for this article because when contacted by the editor to write something on the two battles, I asked for payment up front. Obviously in a bind, the editor acquiesced to my demand. But for whatever reason, I have still not received payment concerning the other two articles or three book reviews.
An author pours himself into his stories. A historian does double-duty by pouring his or herself into their research and then crafting the writing to tell the story of a historical person, place, group, or object. The magazine industry has suffered ever since the rise of the internet. People can get information faster and (generally) for free online. Magazine subscriptions cost money, but so does paying someone to write articles appearing in those magazines. Unless an owner or editor plans on writing all of the articles that make up a single issue his or herself, one has to figure the cost of doing business beforehand, and pay their writers the agreed upon and contracted price.
About a year ago, I contacted an attorney who drafted up a letter of intent that was sent to the magazine making them aware that I would take legal action for non-payment of contracted services rendered. When I received no reply from the magazine, my lawyer (I live in Virginia) told me I would have to get a lawyer in Pennsylvania (where the magazine is located) to take legal action against them. After contacting a Pennsylvania lawyer, they were supposed to draw something up and get back to me, which they never did. Well, life being what it is, I lost my father in July; my sister-in-law was diagnosed with colon cancer two days after his death; between work and traveling across the country three times for work in the past three months, any actions against the magazine has fallen by the wayside. So admittedly, not much is getting done on the legal front anymore.
Back in January of this year, I emailed the owner/editor of the magazine myself, to see if they had actually received the letter of intent. In a response email, he claimed he had, and that there was “no need to take legal action.” He furthermore claimed I’d be paid (eventually), and also wrote something about a magazine being tricky business and revenues aren’t what they used to be. In other words, excuses. The owner/editor, Mr. James Kushlan, claimed in the email to me that I would receive payment, and that it would be processed within the week. This response came from him on 29 January 2018. I promptly responded that if I ran a company the way he ran his magazine I would’ve long been out of business. Over nine months later, I have not heard one word back from him or anyone else from the magazine.
I once worked for a magazine company as a photo editor, so I know a little bit about the magazine business. If I used a photograph from a person or photo agency, I had to make sure the budget allowed for that usage. I was responsible for seeing the agency or individual got paid what they were owed. If they didn’t get paid, I would’ve been fired. Were there delays in processing those payments? Yes. More than two years in delays? No way.
In prior conversations with the owner, and the actual editor of my work (two different people), I was led to believe they cared a great deal about our veterans of the Second World War, and the legacy of their victory. In fact, if I’m not mistaken, I believe both men claim to have had fathers that served during the war. These men appeared to believe in and espouse the same values their fathers exemplified during the war. Among these were hard work, integrity, honesty, and the belief that a person’s work, especially of good quality, had meaning and should be rewarded. I guess I expected too much of the World War II generations children, the oft-maligned but rightfully criticized baby boomer generation, whose values seem to be severely lacking.
When arrogance, avarice, and a tendency to talk down to others are consistent traits of habit, doing the right thing will always fall by the wayside. Some of these people have learned nothing at all from their parents, despite their near-constant worship of the very things accomplished by them. Perhaps the greatest failure of the greatest generation was not passing on that strong work ethic, or the belief that hard work should be rewarded and a person’s word honored. By no means am I saying this is true of every baby boomer, just as it is a generalization to accuse every millennial of being an emotionally overwrought spoiled brat. But experience does teach stereotypes exist for a reason. America in WWII magazine should do the right thing, and pay their authors what they are owed.