SB Nation Under Heavy Internet Fire For Not Paying Their Writers

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AWFUL ANNOUNCING - “It’s our company policy that everybody who contributes for a Vox Media property gets paid.” That quote from SB Nation editor-in-chief Elena Bergeron is part of a long feature by Laura Wagner at Deadspin, titled “How SB Nation Profits Off An Army Of Exploited Workers,” and current and former SB Nation site managers have disputed it intensely, both inside and outside of Wagner’s piece.

Awful Announcing has obtained a SB Nation lead blogger contract for a team site from 2014, which outlines expected responsibilities (at least 12 posts per week, plus further specific posts around games). For compensation, it includes “Vox Media will pay Blogger a stipend of Four Hundred Dollars ($400) per month, payable on a monthly basis.” Other contributors are mentioned in other parts of the contract, such as “this Service may be conducted by Blogger or Blogger’s designee” for many of the specified posts, and it includes “As Lead Blogger, Blogger shall offer guidance, insight and mentoring to contributors. Blogger shall also provide assignments to contributors, and ensure assignments are completed properly.” However, there’s no mention of a policy or ability to pay contributors.

Wagner’s piece also includes quotes from four current site managers refuting the idea that all contributors are paid, and stating that league managers are aware there are plenty of unpaid contributors (and not just for the user-submitted fanposts, but for assigned and edited and scheduled posts).

Here are the key quotes there:

[One manager said] I would guess that 50 percent of our content comes from folks not getting anything. [Our league manager] knows that — we talked about how to use unpaid writers … and I would be shocked if his bosses didn’t know that. And [Lockland’s answer] seems like an attempt to blur the lines between fanposts, which are written and posted by fans with no oversight/editing by us (and thus are the way that most of the big screw-ups of the past have happened), and actual unpaid contributors, who write articles on a normal schedule that are edited and posted in the main layout. Again, they have to know the difference between those roles, so I’m not sure if they’re confused or trying to deliberately obfuscate the issue.

…Another site manager said “I’m under no instruction to pay every single person who writes for me.”

…Another just laughed.

“Every single SB Nation site had paid and unpaid contributors,” he said. “[The idea that everyone is paid] is flatly false.”

What is unique to SB Nation are Bergeron’s comments that “everybody who contributes for a Vox Media property gets paid.” That doesn’t seem to be the case at present, based on comments both inside and outside of Wagner’s article. And it’s quite different than the eventual comment in SB Nation’s statement that they pay at least one person per site.

SB Nation using the NCAA’s revolutionary strategy of getting rich off the backs of unpaid labor it seems.  Bad optics!

I guess that’s one way to build your digital company up to a valuation of $1 billion.  Don’t pay anyone who works there.  Can’t believe we didn’t think of that – what the fuck did we bring all these genius business people in for?  Paying everybody here a good salary plus benefits for the hard work that they do.   So outdated.   You want to become a startup unicorn?  Get a bunch of jamokes to grind for free.  Fuck dollar bills.   Throw Nate and Smitty some peanuts and a membership in the Jelly Of The Month club and let’s get some big money funding.

Anyway, it’s nice to see the internet have their pitchforks out for a blog that isn’t named Barstool Sports for once, even if it’s just for a couple days.  Say what you want about us, but we compensate the people who bust their ass for us.  I was under the impression that was the appropriate thing to do.


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Toss up:

Worst visual:

Not paying your workers or letting PFT Commenter walk?

[via Awful Announcing]