[jja-announce] Jazz Notes Submission: One Freelance Writer's Experience with a Jazz Publication

MICHELE DRAYTON mldray at msn.com
Tue Feb 1 08:06:00 EST 2005

MessageGreetings all,

If my letter and fellow JJA member Lee Mergner's response can help other freelancers, here they are.


----- Original Message ----- 
From: Lee Mergner<mailto:lmergner at jazztimes.com> 
To: 'MICHELE DRAYTON'<mailto:mldray at msn.com> 
Sent: Monday, January 10, 2005 1:18 PM
Subject: RE: Letter from Michele Drayton Re: Richard Davis Article Proposal

First of all, doing something on Richard Davis is something we've been considering for a long time.  Had Chris not assigned something on Davis for an upcoming issue, I would have assigned something on him for the Education Guide.

Second, we receive pitches from freelance writers at an astounding rate and it's very rare that we assign a story to the "pitcher" based on a specific pitch.  We always prefer to assign one of our contributing writers on a story.  There are exceptions, but they are just that - exceptions based on the unique aspects of the story that only that particular writer could get in a piece and that access or perspective would make a real difference.  An good example of that is the story done by a South African writer about how jazz affected the anti-apartheid movement.

The reality is that there are many more people qualified to write articles for us than there are articles to be written.  That's bound to lead to disappointment and resentment.

Sorry that you are disappointed with us. 


Lee Mergner
JazzTimes | Harp 

8737 Colesville Rd., Ninth Floor

Silver Spring, MD 20910-3921

t: 301-588-4114, ext. 513

f: 301-588-5531




  -----Original Message-----
  From: MICHELE DRAYTON [mailto:mldray at msn.com] 
  Sent: Sunday, January 09, 2005 8:33 AM
  To: Lee Mergner; Glenn Sabin
  Cc: Chris Porter; Oilysoap at aol.com
  Subject: Letter from Michele Drayton Re: Richard Davis Article Proposal

  January 9, 2005

  Lee Mergner
  Jazz Times
  8737 Colesville Road
  Silver Spring, MD 20910

  Dear Mr. Mergner,

  I am sending this letter to make you aware of my recent experience with Jazz Times as a freelance writer.

  I emailed a pitch letter proposing an article on jazz bassist Richard Davis to JT Editor Christopher Porter on April 4, 2004 after discussing my story idea during telephone conversations.  I received no feedback.  (A copy of the email is available.)  When I called and asked about the status of my proposal, Mr. Porter said he was busy and hung up on me.  Familiar with deadline pressure, I tolerated the insult.

  Because I believed in the importance of the story, I tried a different approach and emailed a proposal to you.  In that August 24, 2004 letter, I explained why Mr. Davis would make a compelling subject for the Overdue Ovation section of the magazine and included an excerpt.  In your reply copied to Mr. Porter, you said a decision would be left up to him.  I did not hear from Mr. Porter.  (A copy of the email is available.)

  However, last week Mr. Davis informed me that a Jazz Times writer contacted him to request an interview for the Overdue Ovation section.  Mr. Davis expressed concern because I had conducted extensive interviews and kept him apprised of feedback from potential publishers.  I am concerned because at the very least I expect an editor to explain why my article proposal is not acceptable.  If not for the integrity of Mr. Davis, I never would have known that Jazz Times assigned the story to a writer.  I telephoned Mr. Porter to discuss the latest turn of events, but he did not respond to my call.

  Recognition for Mr. Davis is long overdue.  He is an exceptional human being who has demonstrated his professional integrity to me in this most unpleasant circumstance.  I trust that Jazz Times will treat him with the respect and care he deserves and look forward to reading your seasoned writer's authentic angle on the article.

  At this juncture, I am requesting a written reply regarding my article proposal.  I also hope a magazine with the reputation of Jazz Times might, as a result of my experience, take steps to encourage better treatment of freelance writers in the future.

  Michele Drayton

  cc: Jeff Sabin, General Manager; Christopher Porter, Editor; Jazz Journalists Association




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