I got a call from a lawyer the other day. “How are you?” I said. “Better than you will be,” she replied. Turns out she was calling on behalf of Ode Magazine to tell me they could not afford to pay their bills and I would not be getting compensated for my contribution to their magazine. They wanted to be up front with me and with everyone else who was beating down their doors to get paid for their work. I wrote an article on touring Brazil’s favelas for their spring travel issue. It was the first time I’d written an article for a magazine and I was very proud. They asked for 1500 words and said they’d pay fifty cents a word. The story ended up being 900 words but they’d pay me $750 anyway. They warned me it would take a long time to get paid. Eight months later I was starting to feel my story would not have a happy ending.
I’d like to say I’m angry or even disappointed by Ode’s failure to follow through but more than anything I’m sad. This was a really good publication and the editors had wonderful intentions to create a smart magazine for “intelligent optimists.” They were responsive and seemed to work very hard from their offices in the Bay Area and the Netherlands. But the economy is killing Ode Magazine just as it’s ushering in the demise of so many publications. Ode can’t even afford to file for Chapter 11 so it can reorganize. Short of a funding miracle, Ode Magazine will most likely die a quiet death. The magazine is trying to raise $50,000 in the next ten days to stay afloat.
By the end of the year we’ll have written the obituaries of Metropolitan Home, Fortune Small Business, and Conde Nast’s Gourmet, Cookie, Modern Bride and Elegant Bride. Other magazines bit the dust before them. They were victims of a declining advertising market where ad sales, according to one report, were down almost 12% since 2008, while the cost of printing continues to skyrocket. Newspapers are taking it on the chin even worse than magazines as we’ve seen with the deaths of the Rocky Mountain News, the Seattle Post Intelligencer, even the Christian Science Monitor.
More established publications have been able to downsize, outsource and cut costs but it seems Ode Magazine, even with its good intentions, might not be able to outrun the bad economy. There are many others besides myself who are not getting paid for their work. For me, it is the very first time in my career. The money would have been nice but at the end of the day it doesn’t really matter that much. What matters is that a really good magazine is running out of time and another voice will be silenced.
For more information on Vicky Collins visit http://teletrendstv.com.