Commercial Appeal Eliminating Paid Freelance Writers

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A lot of bylines are about to disappear from the pages of Memphis' daily newspaper. These are names readers know, too — art and food writer Fredric Koeppel, entertainment writer Jon Sparks, and other freelancers. Writers were informed of the decision to stop paying for out-of-house work Sunday, via an email from Entertainment Team Editor Mark Richens. The straightforward message read, "The Commercial Appeal has ordered that all freelance spending be suspended, effective immediately. Any invoices already submitted will be paid, but nothing from here on out."

Monday morning Koeppel posted the following to Facebook:

"Dear local friends: I was informed by email last night that The Commercial Appeal, the newspaper with which I have been associated for 32 and a half years, will no longer employ freelance writers. This decision means that I will no longer supply the Friday arts and entertainment section with art reviews or longer art-related stories (or the occasional book review), nor will my colleagues Jon W Sparks (performing arts) and Mark Jordan (music) also be so employed. ( Christine Arpe Gang, who has been writing about gardening for the paper since time immemorial, is also affected.) I started at the CA as a freelancer in 1984, joined the paper full-time in 1986 and continued as a full-time reporter and critic until March 2009, thereafter writing freelance again until last week. Even though many changes have occurred at The Commercial Appeal since it was acquired by Gannett and this development should not be too surprising, it comes as a shock to me and feels like the end of an era. Thanks to all of you for reading my words for so many years and for your support and encouragement."

Details to come.


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