A couple of weeks ago I advertised in various places for writers for my new website, Ghost Guns. I got a reply from one woman who said she'd like to give it a try, so I gave her the assignment of looking up the 1st Rhode Island, a Revolutionary War light infantry regiment composed of African-Americans.
She sent me back 500 words. She obviously hadn't put it through a spell-checker, or a grammar checker. I had a second look at her resume and it still said the same thing, she'd graduated with a degree in journalism.
Well, I figured, no problem, she's eager, she's willing to do the work, I'll work with her. So I sent her an email asking for a clarification on one point. She sent me something back.
Things have intervened, and its been about 3 days since I've had contact with her. I wanted to ask her to do a re-write on her story. Since this is the first thing we've worked on, I wanted to show my good faith, so I sent her a paypal payment for the article, even though I had told her previously that I'd only pay when the article went online. I figured that by paying her (a ridiculously low amount, admittedly, but it's all I can afford and she had agreed to it) I'd make it clear to her that I was operating in 'good faith' and not trying to stiff her.
Did my plan work? Nope.
I got an email from her today, a few hours after I had sent her payment and a request for the rewrite, in which she gives me a curt one sentence, "I guess you didn't like the article then, since I haven't seen it up yet."
I responded asking her if she hadn't gotten my previous email of the day. She says no, resend, so I did.
Then, also to try to show her that she was valued and that I wanted to work with her, I asked her if she was a member of MagWeb, a site where this one article she had referenced originated. My intent was to say, "if this is so, great, because there's lots of good stuff there ...and if not, I'll pay for it so we can all use it." But it never got that far.
She's just sent me an absolute rocket, saying that I'm accusing her of cheating (because I require that all articles submitted to me have bibliographies). No she isn't a member of MagWeb, and apparently my asking this question was another instance of me accusing her of cheating, although how she worked that out I can't fathom.
"Journalism doesnt' require bibliographies, and none of the articles on your site have them," she says. Well..the articles currently at Ghost Guns are travel articles recounting my experiences at various sites, and an interview with a living history re-enactor, and don't need bibliographies. But when I'm trying to publish factual articles, to be read by people who actually know their history backwards and forwards, I need a bibliography, and so I told her.
I sent her a final email telling her the above. What I would have liked to have told her, but didn't, is that the article she sent me was amateurish - poorly written and not spell-checked, and if she's an example of what journalism schools allow to graduate today with degrees, it doesn't say much for schools. And that she's showing signs of incipient paranoia or low self esteem or something!
I'm really tempted to try to unsend my $5, since to make her article usable there's quite a bit more work to be done on it, but I guess I'll let that go and chalk it up to a learning experience.