Crikey! Writers want to get paid?
Confusion abounds at Eric Beecher's Private Media empire, where the CEO denies that a conversation that took place actually took place amid a meltdown over the non-payment of arts writers.
Private Media launched arts site The Daily Review, a spinoff from popular masthead Crikey, on Monday night. But the new site looks a little thin so far, with most of Crikey's arts writers refusing to write for it for the pay on offer: nothing (as reported by CBD on Tuesday).
As the crisis deepened on Tuesday, advertiser the National Library of Australia threatened to pull its support unless writers were paid, and Greens senator Lee Rhiannon backed the virtual picket line by refusing an offer to write a Crikey op-ed.
Beecher hasn't returned CBD's calls, but Private Media CEO Marina Go rang on Tuesday afternoon in an effort to set the record straight. She denied a report by music writer Andrew Stafford that Daily Review editor Ray Gill told him the masthead had no budget for contributors.
"We haven't had conversations with people about the budget," Go said. "Why would we have a conversation with contributors about our budget?"
However, in a November 4 email obtained by CBD, Gill told Stafford that, unlike Crikey, "I have no budget at all so any contributions have to be done on a copy share arrangement with a blogger/writer."
Go said: "And maybe that's what he believes, but I can't comment on what actually was said.
"And that's really all I have time to talk to you about. Thank you."
With that, she hung up the phone.
Stafford told CBD he "went from philosophical disappointment, turning to disgust and finally to rage".
"This is not just about Crikey - this is a discussion that writers and publishers have had to have for a long time. Just because our industry is going through upheaval doesn't mean there are core principles - namely a fair day's work for a fair day's pay - that should be abandoned."
Go sees it differently. "We don't see that we've got a problem," she said. She said those Crikey bloggers whose entries were used on The Daily Review would get click-throughs to their blogs. While Crikey pays nothing upfront to its bloggers, additional hits would increase the chance of a bonus paid based on how many page views a blog achieves in a month.
Meanwhile, National Library spokeswoman Sally Hopman told CBD: "The National Library will not advertise again on this website if it is shown that contributors are not being paid for their work."
Rhiannon, the only senator in the world named after a Fleetwood Mac song, said she "much appreciated" an offer to write for Crikey about her recent trip to Sri Lanka. "However given the issues raised by a number of Crikey writers regarding The Daily Review and their decision to withhold their writing during the dispute, I declined the offer as a mark of respect to them," she said.
Up in the air
Frequent flyers may be pleased to know Virgin Australia boss John Borghetti is a big fan of their contribution to the aviation industry.
"This is the biggest rort an airline's ever invented," Borghetti recalls himself thinking when the logistics of the schemes were explained. "How do we get away with it?" Sadly, he then backtracked, saying that he actually thought frequent flyer programs were a "very value-enhancing proposition".
He also used his presentation to Sydney University's Institute of Transport and Logistics Studies to offer his prognosis for the Australian car industry, currently in "intensive care".
"We keep trying to wake it up, but the thing's in a coma it's not going to wake up. So just pull the plug, right," he said. "I don't want to see that in any newspaper tomorrow!"
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