New Jersey luxury magazine sends cease-and-desist to freelancer trying to get paid


In January, I received an email from freelance writer A.C. Shilton, who was trying to get paid by HudsonMOD magazine and its publisher, Shannon Steitz. She told me: “I have gotten a lawyer involved to help me go after my $675, but she’s not taking my lawyer’s calls. …Anyway, if anything this has taught me how vulnerable you really are as a freelancer. I’m not really even sure what my next step is.”

I called HudsonMOD in late January and asked the editor about Shilton not getting paid. (Steitz wasn’t available to take my call, and the editor claimed she didn’t know about past due checks.) A few weeks later, the freelancer finally got her money from Steitz. “She ignored my lawyer for a good two months before a check randomly arrived.”

Terry Ward

Terry Ward

Today I received another email about HudsonMOD not paying a freelancer; this time it was Terry Ward trying collect $3,460 for her articles. She was sent a cease-and-desist email after tweeting about her collection troubles.

“It’s been months of trying to get paid by this ‘magazine,'” says Ward, “and the minute I start tweeting that they don’t pay writers, they try to make me stop spreading it on social media.”

Sarah Rose, a former HudsonMOD contributor who also had collection problems, says of the cease-and-desist to Ward: “I’ve been freelancing for almost 20 years and it’s terrifying to get a letter from a lawyer under any circumstances. This is just plain bullying.” She adds:

I would like to draw your attention to a few things [in the cease and desist] —

1) the lawyers are offering HALF of the contracted money, as long as she stops posting on social media and signs an NDA

2) the insinuation of a “friendship” with her editor — something a female reporter hears all too frequently and that gets right under my skin.

3) the lawyer asserts industry standard is $.50/wd – implying her “friendship” got her a 2x raise. As you know, industry standard is $2/wd — most of us are making do with $1/wd.

The magazine, through its lawyer, is offering to pay Ward $2,000.

Are you accepting it? I asked the 39-year-old writer. (She’s been published in BBC Travel, Men’s Journal, Maxim and other magazines.)

“Hell, no!”

I called HudsonMOD this afternoon and, again, was told that publisher wasn’t in the office.

The cease-and-desist letter: Page one, page two, and page three.

Let me know if you’ve also had collection problems with HudsonMOD.