Mores tales from the dark side of trying to get paid for freelance journalism
By Nate Thayer
June 3, 2014
Yesterday, I received a promotional mass email from Richard Walker, Production Manager for British TV production company, World Media Rights, announcing the premier broadcast today of their new documentary, Black Ops 2, “Yesterday” on Sky Television, Virgin Media 206, and FreeView 19.
The problem is that, eight months after I spent many days working for them in a film in which my work is prominently featured, they have yet to pay me.
I responded to the Promotional campaign announcing the release of the film to Richard Walker:
From: Nate Thayer
Sent: 02 June 2014 18:37
To: Richard Walker
Subject: Re: Black Ops 2
Where is the money you agreed, in writing, to pay me for my assistance for the production of this doco? Please respond promptly and send me the promised payment immediately. This is the fifth time I have asked in writing and your only response is to send me a promo of the doco? Please, get it together. Ripping off freelancers for their work is neither good policy or public relations. Send Me My Promised Payment Now.”
from: Richard Walker <[email protected]>
to: Nate Thayer <[email protected]>
date: Tue, Jun 3, 2014 at 4:37 AM
subject: RE: Black Ops 2
“Dear Mr Thayer,
I have no record of receiving an invoice from you. Without an invoice our accounts department will not action payment.
Please forward me the invoice at your earliest convenience, including account details of where payment should be made to, and I will process it immediately.
So I responded this morning with the following:
To:Richard Walker/ World Media Rights
Fm: Nate Thayer/ Actual Journalist
Again, please cease fucking around professional journalists and do the right thing and pay me my fucking money. Today.
The fact that World Media Rights cannot located an invoice after more than 20 email and phone exchanges that included those details with several of your appointed representatives from over six months ago is not reassuring. Nor is the fact that after a flurry of phone calls and email exchanges initiated by your company on that topic at that time, I have had no response from anyone of any kind since you secured and used my services.
If you are looking for corroboration and dates, I suggest you check your files for the reciept of in excess of $400.00 you paid to dispatch a chauffeured limousine to pick me up at my residence, transport me to your rented hotel facilities near Dulles airport, and which waited for several hours while your employed production and camera crew, who were registered at that hotel, who you paid for and flew over from the London to Washington to record my professional services, and the extensive correspondence, some of which is attached below, I had with Ned Parker, Delphine Gilson, both of whom interviewed me extensively over several weeks, and Yourself, Nathan Lomax-Cooke, the Associate Producer and your Producer/Director Steve Baker, both of whom were in your employ and in Washington and interviewed me on tape, all of which resulted in you securing on film the results of my professional services which included 6 months of research and which served as a substantial basis for you to be able to make your TV production, in which I am featured.
Or you might want to simply view your own film, currently for sale, in which I am prominently featured.
As a note, the fact that World Media Rights, after 8 months, has made exactly zero effort to pay for my journalist work that allowed for your TV production to be realized once those services were secured, speaks for itself.
Please note that I did not sign any release for the broadcast use of my services, specifically refusing to sign the document until my services were paid for for the exact reason that this sordid routine of neglecting to pay for the freelance journalist services of which is the very lifeblood of companies like yours is an all too common practice among your ilk of so called journalism.
Until payment is received, I do not give World Media Rights the permission to use my recorded professional services. I will relinquish and agree to the rights of broadcast when and only when the monies owed are received.
World Media Rights, bills itself as “one of the largest “factual programme” producers in the UK, which has 945 completed programmes in its catalog, and 433 hours of programming available for purchase, and supplies factual programming to forty countries and which is regularly seen on AETN, Discovery (in the USA and the UK), France 5 and Planete (in France) and ZDF and Spiegel TV (in Germany) and other television networks in the Middle East, Asia, Australia and New Zealand.”
Just as WMR, of course, secures its funding prior to embarking on professional production of its programs, so do I, as a freelance journalist.
So, again, please cease fucking around professional journalists and do the right thing and pay me my fucking money. Today.
Here is another invoice to World Media Rights for your records.
$500.00 (for research and freelance journalism and consultancy services for production of Black Ops 2 October/November 2013)
$150.00 (for late fees due)
$75.00 (for the hour services I just further expended to respond once again to your disingenious message bemoaning the claim, after 8 months, you have no records of me requesting payment for my services)
Monies owed should be paid by bank wire to Nate Thayer:
USAA Federal Savings Bank
NATHANIEL T THAYER
1714 U ST NW
WASHINGTON DC 20009
Account Type: USAA SECURE CHECKING
Account Number 157653994
ABA/Routing Number: 314074269
SWIFT Code: IRVTUS3N
Thanking you in advance.
I attached for Mr. Walker’s edification, the following:
For reference: Selection from previous correspondence between WMS employees and myself, after numerous extensive telephone calls going over details of my research into Israeli, Syrian, and North Korean covert operations in the Middle East:
October 24, 2013 with Ned Parker:
Yes those are both issues I have followed closely. I would be happy to be of any help I can. I am at this email or (in Washington D.C) at 443 205 9162
October 24, 2013:
Thanks so much for your time.
I will try desperately to get something scheduled for next week/weekend and will let you know how I get on.
October 25, 2013
Correspondence between Ned Parker and Delphine Gilson of WMS and myself:
My colleague Steve is in DC at the end of next week and would be able to film an interview with you on Thursday morning at 11am if you are available.
He’s interviewing near Dulles Airport – we would of course arrange a car to take you there and back.
Do let me know if this might be possible.
All the best,
October 25, 2013:
Thursday 31 October at 11:00 am will be fine. Dulles is an hour away from DC. That means, logically, that the entire process, if I were to be picked up in DC, taken to the Dulles area, interviewed, and returned, would likely take up most of the day.
I am happy to do it, but, as I am sure you are aware, the subject matter involved months and months of me conducting research, all personally financed by me as, being a freelancer, I have no institutional support. If you have the budget to pick me up in a chauffeured driven rental car, I would think you might be able to adequately compensate me for my professional research for which you are interviewing me for your documentary.
Of course, I am, like every freelance professional journalist, am used to these sort of shenanigans.
But it would be a pleasant surprise if I was also budgeted in for compensation for the journalistic work I put into researching the subject of which you deem worthy enough to find useful to produce your documentary film.
Or at least as worthy as hiring a chauffeured driven vehicle to transport me to the location to accomodate your cameraman and interviewer, who I assume are being paid.
As a journo, it seems in the greater professional interest for you to acknowledge and recognize and accept the realities of the work done to produce your product. That would include my efforts as a professional journalist. Or not?
Let me know, and I will pencil it into my schedule.
October 28, 2013:
Correspondence between Ned Parker and myself:
Firstly, apologies for not getting back to you sooner. I am in Israel and have been without email connection all day.
I completely appreciate all the points you make in your email. Putting together an article like that takes work and I appreciate that I have asked you to contribute to the programme (and take your time to travel to a location) without having offered any financial reward for you.
Unfortunately my industry, like yours, is increasingly pushing people to do more for less (or indeed nothing) but, that said, I would like nothing more than to be a pleasant surprise for you. Can you give me a day to come back to you? Insane as it sounds I have to find out if I have to pay excess baggage on an Easyjet flight before I will know what I can offer.
Please forgive the following attempt at justification for not having offered a fee outright – I really hate to plead poverty but I really don’t want you to be under the impression that I would ask somebody to do something for nothing whilst blowing money elsewhere. The budget doesn’t stretch to me travelling to two locations so I have had to ask my colleague to try to pick up interviews for me in the states – he is having to do the same for two other producers on top of his own work. Budgets don’t stretch to a cameraman – it’s just him and his researcher self operating the camera. He is based as Dulles because it is the cheapest place to stay. I had offered to send a car as I knew that I hadn’t offered any money to you and I therefore didn’t feel I could ask you to pay out for that journey on top of giving up your time.
Like I said, please forgive the weak attempts to justify myself. I wish I could say that this was a unique case, but in the ten years I’ve been doing this every budget has been less than the previous one and so the opportunities to offend people are only increasing.
Hopefully I can get back to you tomorrow with something more reasonable.
I really appreciate you patience.
October 28, 2013:
Correspondence from me to Ned Parker:
No worries at all. I should apologize for my harsh email. I and we both know the situation is hard. I will do the interview . I plead being a bit grumpy cause the rent is coming up etc.
Thanks for the thoughtful message.
October 29, 2013 at 6:46 AM:
from: Delphine Gilson; cc: Ned Parker, Richard Walker, Nathan Lomax-Cooke all of WMR to me:
I am the associate producer working with Ned Parker on the programmes he has discussed with you. I am happy to hear that you are on board for the interview on Thursday October 31st at 11am
The interview will take place at the following address:
Embassy Suites Dulles Airport
Address: 13341 Woodland Park Drive, Herndon, VA 20171
Telephone: 1 (703) 464-0200
I will be booking car arrangements to pick you up and drop you off for the interview. Could you let me know where you would like to be picked up from and dropped off again? Also could I have your cell number?
As soon as I get the car booking confirmations and contact details I will forward these onto you.
Nathan Lomax-Cooke is the AP who will be in DC to film the interview on our behalf.
Nathan won’t know his USA cell number until he gets to the USA so the best way to reach him on the day should there be any problems is either via the hotel number Tel: 1 (703) 464-0200 or his UK cell number 011 44 7966 612 233. If I get hold of his USA cell number in good time then I will forward this to you as well.
Producer/Director Steve Baker will also be there and his UK cell number is 011 44 7932 670 634
The Room number is yet TBA but if you can let reception know when you arrive then they can call Nathan to come and greet you.
I will be conducting the interview over the phone from the UK on Thursday.
Please do not hesitate to get in touch should you have any questions.
I will be in touch again with car arrangements
October 30, 2013 11:05 AM
From Dephine Gilson cc Ned Parker to me:
It was a pleasure speaking with you yesterday and I hope your emails are back up and running. I will follow up this email with a phone call as well as discussed yesterday.
I have spoken to Ned and we can offer $100 payment. Due to unforeseen other expenses I’m afraid this is as much as we can offer and hope you will find this agreeable. As mentioned over the phone I have also arranged for a car to drive you to the interview location and back.
Below are the questions Ned would like to put forward to you in the interview tomorrow. He by no means expects you to read up on the specifics so please do let me know during the interview if you feel you can not answer the questions and I will take your lead.
1. I intend to open with the “Mother’s bus attack” of 1988 in which three PLO gunmen hijacked a bus in Israel killing three Israeli civilians. This was supposedly an act orchestrated by al-Wazir and the event which prompted Rabin to order his assassination. Any details you could give me on this event would be most useful.
2. Any background you can offer me on Abu Jihad – what sort of man he was, his role within the PLO leadership, his involvement in terrorist attacks in Israel and his attempts to control the growing intifada. Was this man a legitimate target for Israel?
3. The decision to assassinate al-Wazir is often credited to defence minister Rabin. Any comment on Rabin and what is known about this decision? How much was it a revenge attack and to what extent might he have believed it would bring an end to the intifada?
4. I would like to ask you about the Mossad operation in Tunis which located al-Wazir and provided details for the planning of the military operation. How did they get into Tunisia undetected? What details do we know of their surveillance operation? There are reports that they bugged al-Wazir’s house. What sort of intelligence did they need to gather for the planning of the assassination?
5. The assassination was to be carried out by the Sayeret Matkal. What can you tell me about this elite unit; their specialities, structure and previous missions they have undertaken? Why are they so well suited to conducting this sort of operation? What is known about the manner in which they prepared for the al-Wazir assassination (reports of a precise model of al-Wazir’s villa being built for them to practice in)
6. Two individuals I am particularly interested in are Ehud Barak who was allegedly in charge of the operation and Nahum Lev who would be in command on the ground. Anything you can contribute about either of them would be very useful.
7. Can you outline the plan that the Sayeret Matkal devised for the assassination? How they would get to shore, be collected by Mossad agents and how the commando’s would be disguised as tourists (some female). There are strong parallels with operation Spring of Youth – can you comment on those?
8. There are reports that the female disguises were tested out in an Israeli shopping mall. Any comment on that would be very useful.
9. Any comment on the support that the commandos would receive from other units – the air force providing the flying command centre, the navy ferring the commandos to Tunis, the Mossad agents on the ground.
10. It is reported that al-Wazir had received a tip-off and was preparing to flee only to stay behind to watch news on the intifada. Can you tell me anything about this?
11. Could you talk me through the final operation .Specifics I am interested in are: i) How the commandos were collected from the beach by Mossad, ii) How two commandos in tourist disguises killed a guard in his car drawing a silenced gun from a box of chocolates, iii) how the commandos entered the house, iv) how al-Wazir’s wife witnessed the killing, v) how the commandos escape was aided by the jamming of local telephone and radio links.
12. Finally, can you tell me about the Israeli and international reactions to the killing and what practical effect, if any, did it have?
SYRIA; The bombing of the Al-Kibar nuclear facility
1. I would like to ask you about the Ryongchon train crash in North Korea in April 2004 in which it is said that a dozen Syrian nuclear technicians were killed. I understand that from this event, Israel began to look more closely at the links between North Korea and Syria which indicated that Syria might be pursuing a nuclear weapons programme. Of note are the claims that Syria covertly flew the bodies of the technicians back to Syria.
2. In turn I would like to ask you about what links were established by Israeli intelligence to exist between Syria and North Korea at that time.
3. A key figure I would like to ask you about is the Syrian general Mohammed Suleiman who many have identified as being the man most likely to be in charge of the Syrian nuclear programme. Who was he and what was known of his link to the Assad regime?
4. I would like to ask you about an operation by Mossad that was reported to have taken place in either London or Vienna in 2006 in which Israeli agents trailed a Syrian nuclear official, broke into his hotel room and accessed his laptop uncovering intelligence which outlined Syria’s building of the Al-Kibar facility. A Sunday Times article claimed that the official was targeted for assassination by Mossad’s Kidon unit but that the material recovered from his laptop was the reason for this to be called off. What can you tell me about the Kidon and why they were called off in this instance.
5. It would be very helpful if you could elaborate on the details of the al-Kibar nuclear facility which were revealed by the files taken from the Syrian official’s laptop. Particularly to what degree this was a revelation for Israeli intelligence and how Syria had managed to keep it secret.
6. If you are able to comment on the theories of Iranian involvement with Al-Kibar and also the apparent revelations of the Iranian defector General Ali-Reza Asgar that the facility was intended to produce material for Iran’s nuclear weapons programme.
7. A key area which I would like to ask you about is the role of Israel’s special forces in confirming the presence of nuclear material at the site. Reports say that a team of Sayeret Matkal commandos flew into Syria in helicopters disguised as Syrian soldiers and that they succeeded in covertly collecting soil samples which proved it was a nuclear facility.
8. I would like to ask you briefly about the communication between Israel and the US on how best to deal with the Al-Kibar facility. We are mainly looking at events from an Israeli perspective but if you have a comment on the reasons why the Bush administration declined Olmert’s request to order an American strike that would be very useful.
9. Why did Israel decide to act unilaterally and why specifically at the time that they did? Was it because of the risk of leaks from the Bush administration or because of reports that, following a shipment from North Korea, they suspected that the Al-Kibar was about to go “on-line”?
10. What was the risk of a Syrian military response to an Israeli air strike? How did Israel evaluate that risk?
11. On the bombing mission itself, any detail that you can bring in an account of what happened would be of enormous value. Particularly on how Israel overcame the Syrian air defenses.
12. I wondered if you could comment on reports that even after the bombing of the Al-Kibar facility, Israel believed that Syria still intended to pursue a nuclear weapons programme. Is this in any way linked to the assassination of Muhamed Suleiman in February of 2008?
13. Finally, could you comment on the nature of the Suleiman assassination and reports that it was carried out by either Mossad’s Kidon unit or the Sayeret Matkal. Any s there any doubt that Israel was responsible for this?
October 31, 2013:
From: Delphine Gilson
Sent: 31 October 2013 10:13 AM
To: [email protected]
Subject: room number and cell number for TV interview
I look forward to talking to you later today.
Just to update you our crew on the ground (Steve and Nathan) now have the room number where interviews will take place and it is room #409 Embassy Suites Dulles Airport, 13341 Woodland Park Drive, Herndon, VA 20171
They also have a US cell in case you need to get a hold of them: 001 559 523 6679.
All the best and speak soon
November 6, 2013 from Delphine Gibson cc Ned Parker to me:
I just wanted to reiterate my thanks for the interview the other day and hope you enjoyed it too!
Many thanks once again!