For the past few weeks, I’ve been in a weird place with the magazine I do freelance work for.
About a month ago, my editor told me we weren’t going to have weekly staff meetings anymore because no one, except me, was coming to them. This was a fine idea however, no other mechanism for pitching stories was put in place. And so, for a few weeks I sent story pitches by email.
These stories never got a response, and therefore I haven’t had any work in these weeks.
One Friday night, I sent another email to the editor telling him I felt out of the loop and had some story ideas. He didn’t like my idea, but assigned me something different. He also asked me if I’d be interested in writing a story about online dating.
Considering my obsession with Catfish The TV Show, I immediately replied back saying, “Yes! I would love to!” He wrote back saying I should start brainstorming.
I later made a post to my Facebook page, asking if anyone in town had any interesting experiences in online dating or knew someone who had. I got four good leads and emailed the editor asking him if I should follow up on the leads, not knowing the direction of the story he was looking for.
He told me I couldn’t interview my friends, so he would put another writer in touch with me. I replied with, “Oh.” I was pissed. I had just lost a story, and of course money, all because my brainstorming involved my “friends” on Facebook? Okay, sweet.
He wrote me back, saying I could interview friends of friends. I left this with no response. Instead, I called Jesus Belt to vent. Here were my points:
1. Online dating is of the 90s. Today, it’s perfectly acceptable to bang someone you met online and no one gives a flying fuck about it. It’s not cutting edge.
2. How was I supposed to find a story regarding a local online dating experience without consulting friends? Unless it’s another Manti Te’o, it’s not public knowledge every time someone logs into Match.com.
JB suggested that I call and schedule a face-to-face meeting with the editor and find out if they are trying to phase me out. If they’re trying to fire you, he said, make them do it to your face. If they’re not trying to fire you, there needs to be an understanding in how stories are pitched and assigned.
I agreed, but for some reason I wasn’t jumping at the chance to schedule my meeting.
The following day, 24 hours before deadline, I get an email from the editor asking me how the online dating story is coming? I waited 24 hours before replying, saying, “I don’t know? You told me I couldn’t interview my friends and that you’d put me in touch with another writer. Still haven’t heard from the other writer.” I included the names of the 4 leads I had, along with their contact information.
He apologized for the confusion and said he was just looking for a compilation of funny/interesting stories about online dating… hmm okay then how come I couldn’t interview my friends?
I didn’t reply.
Then he sent me another email, saying, “Maybe it would be funny if we just took parts from profiles, like this one…” and included a link. I didn’t bother with the link, because Mr. Ethical Journalism had just suggested to me one of the most unethical things possible: stealing information and printing it without permission. Brilliant.
I didn’t reply to this either, and I don’t even know if the story ever happened.
Since then, I haven’t pitched or received any stories. Part of me feels like I need to email the editor and make things clear, but there’s another part of me that’s just pissed. I’ve written for that publication for more than two years now, been there longer than all 4 editors COMBINED, and yet it’s appearing as if no one is noticing that I’m gone.
Should I really need to set up a meeting with the boss to say, hey have you noticed I haven’t been around? I feel like they should be reaching out to me, checking to see what’s up.
But what do I know?