Jagger Blaec approached a number of freelance writers, all of whom had written for Ebony since 2016, and nearly a dozen of those writers, she says, have said that they’ve not been paid for work dating back as far as 2013, despite assurances from the magazine that they would be paid within 45 days of publication or receipt of invoice.
“The fact that one of the most prominent magazines for black writers is exploiting their work… says a lot about the current state of freelance writing for young writers of color,” insists Blaec.
This is particularly sad and disturbing given the fact that Ebony is a prominent institution within black culture since 1945 and is one of the last black-owned magazine companies left, says Blaec.
While race certainly plays a role in the making sure payments are made in a timely fashion, age too makes a difference: young black artists are often pressured and intimidated into working for little but the opportunity for any young writer to be published in a prestigious magazine or on a big-name news site usually outweighs a writer’s willingness to advocate for higher fees.
Depreciating writers works as a business model. Ariana and The Huffington Post built an online media empire and made millions while paying their writers little or nothing for their work.