Fairfax has moved to shore up its payment systems for freelancers after regular contributors to The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age business sections were left with outstanding invoices for months of work.
One of the affected freelancers describes the delays as a “complete stuff-up” and a “shemozzle”. Another contributor, who says they have been paid intermittently since late last year, says the administration of payments had fallen to the levels of a “shitty trade publication”.
Affected freelancers include contributors to the Money, Executive Style, Commercial Property and My Small Business sections. The delays have been blamed on new accounting systems and high turnover among section editors since last year’s mass redundancies.
Although some freelancers who spoke to Crikey are still unhappy, Fairfax’s national business editor Mark Hawthorne this morning says the problem is under control.
“We did have delays in processing some payments after a change in our back office IT systems,” he said. “We have worked hard to catch up and are now on top of it.”
In an April email sent to Fairfax business editors and freelancers, Hawthorne acknowledged a “significant backlog” of payments …
In the email, Hawthorne wrote:
“I am aware that many of you have outstanding invoices at the moment. Due to staffing changes and the consolidation of print and online contributor budgets across a number of sections, including Money, Executive Style, Commercial Property and My Small Business, payments to many of you are running behind schedule … I wish to thank you for your patience over the past few months — having worked as a freelance journalist myself, I know just how important regular payment is.”