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Stringer billing help

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by Scribe4264, Nov 18, 2006.

  1. Scribe4264

    Scribe4264 Member

    OK, I've only been at the stringing/freelancing for newspapers gig for a few months and could use some advice from those with a little more experience than I.

    I know when I was the SE at my paper and we used a stringer, I made damn sure we got the stringer paid ASAP. I did some work for a paper (that shall remain nameless for now) back in September and wound up covering three games for them. I sent them a bill at the end of September and here we are mid-November and still no check. There was a form I needed to sign which they forgot to send me, so that delayed payment about a week, but since then they keep apologizing for the delay and keep saying the check is on the way.

    At what point do I lose all of my patience here and, if allowed, send another bill with some sort of late fee attached to the original amount?

    Any suggestions out there?
  2. I'll never tell

    I'll never tell Active Member

    I would write a letter and make four copies. Send one to sports editor, one to the ME, one to the head accoutant and another to the publisher.

    Tell them plainly, look you expect me to file my stories on time. Therefore, I expect my check on time.

    You just haven't made it up the ladder far enough to get someone's attention.

    Maybe one out of the four will give a shit.
  3. playthrough

    playthrough Moderator Staff Member

    I guess part of the question is whether you want to string for that paper again. You're entitled to be persistent, though.

    Don't do the late-fee thing. They're not going to magically say "aw shucks we're so late, yeah let's give him an extra 10 percent."
  4. KP

    KP Active Member

    Well, since we have this example, I'll throw this out there. Say 3 months turns into 6, what kind of options does scribe have if the paper fails to pay up? How does an issue like that get solved?
  5. I'll never tell

    I'll never tell Active Member

    I would say going to the radio station or local TV station and say ... hey, y'all wanna screw with the newspaper.

    Everybody's got a help the little man segment.
  6. Scribe4264

    Scribe4264 Member

    I've signed up as a stringer for their in-town competition and when they next call and say they've got one of their teams playing a game in the area I live in again I'll just say, "Sorry, already covering that game for your competitor. They actually pay their stringers."
    In the meantime, I've sent word to their SE, ME and Publisher that I haven't been paid for work done two months ago and the endless excuses aren't cutting it anymore.
    I suppose I could go to small claims court, at this point I doubt I'd ever do anything for them again since they can't get their act together and pay me, but what a pain in the butt to have to deal with for $180.
  7. SF_Express

    SF_Express Active Member

    I understand your frustration. But no late fee.
  8. Football_Bat

    Football_Bat Well-Known Member

    Go over the SE's head and call the paper's bookkeeping department. Repeatedly.

    That'll piss them off into paying you.
  9. Freelance Hack

    Freelance Hack Active Member

    Every 30 days, you should send an invoice to your newspaper client listing all the jobs performed in that time frame with an amount due clearly stated at the bottom in bold.

    It's easy to put together an invoice, either through Word or Excel.

    Keep a copy for your records and make sure you send one to your contact at the paper and the paper's accounting office.

    Keep in mind, most papers pay stringers on a monthly basis. Usually at the end of the month. Try to send an invoice no later than the third week of the month. That should (but not guarantee) that you'll be paid promptly. If you have a game during the final few days of the month, just accept the fact that you probably won't get the check until 4-6 weeks later.

    Also, it could be worse. You could write 12,000 words for a magazine in March. Not have it published until late summer and not get paid until mid-fall. Papers aren't like that. At least papers I've worked with aren't like that.
  10. Ace

    Ace Well-Known Member

    Most papers make stringers sign a "form" which basically gives them the right to do whatever they want with the story.

    Usually those forms don't specifically state what you will be doing and how much you will be paid, though. Often, you sign it once and you are good forever.

    Have any stringers actually had the sports editor put the agreement down in writing beforehand?
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