In open letter to the Globe and Mail, author Nino Ricci dials the snark up to 11 to complain of missing wages

In open letter to the Globe and Mail, author Nino Ricci dials the snark up to 11 to complain of missing wages

In search of lost dimes: Nino Ricci (Image: Doubleday) 

Any freelance writer has, inevitably, had to deal with the pain and anxiety of waiting for a cheque to arrive in the mail. Large media organizations are no more immune than small indies, and apparently award-winning authors are no more immune than struggling nobodies. On his web site yesterday, Governor General Award–winning Canadian author Nino Ricci posted an open letter to the editor and publisher of The Globe and Mail, alarmed at the paper’s seemingly dire accounting situation.

Last September I was commissioned to write a travel article for the special relaunch edition of The Globe and Mail that appeared on newsstands on October 2nd, 2010. (Let me just add as a sidenote: Love the gloss!) To my delight, I was able to negotiate a fee for the article that was well in excess of the frugal freelance rates the Globe is normally obliged to pay in the digital age, and indeed was nearly at the level of the premium rates that used to be in effect when I first started freelancing twenty years ago. At the Globe’s insistence I was also allowed to put all my expenses on my own credit card rather than on the Globe’s, thus accumulating points toward eventual free travel.

And it continues humorously from there. We recommend reading the whole thing.

In an interview with The Informer this afternoon, Ricci blames/credits his wife for getting him to go public with his frustration with the Globe. “Honestly, it was my wife. I tend to be lackadaisical about chasing down payments . . . in this particular case, because of [the large travel expense] I said I’d write the editor and publisher.

“Then it occurred to me that this is a problem that many freelancers are going through,” says Ricci, so he decided to go public with his frustration to make a point about the “endemic” problem in the industry—though he declined to give any other specific examples. Ricci’s letter got enough press on Twitter (“I’m on Twitter but I don’t really know how to use it,” said Ricci when we told him of his fame) that when he checked his e-mail at about 2 p.m., there was a series of e-mails from John Stackhouse and others at the Globe apologizing and promising to have a cheque out by Friday.

Ricci has resolved this particular case, but he says the bigger problem remains, the one that caused him to go this far. “It’s not encouraging that one has to go to this extreme to get payment . . . it’s becoming increasingly difficult to make a living as a freelancer.”

• Open Letter to Globe and Mail []