This is MadameNoire:
On the outside looking in, with its feminine color scheme, grabby headlines, and conversational “think pieces”, MadameNoire seems like any other innocuous gossip site. But pull back the curtains on the “fine and dandy” appearance MadameNoire puts on, and you’ve got a whole staff of undervalued, underpaid writers who are the engine that keep the site running.
Before I begin dragging MadameNoire on its dirty a** behind, I do want to say that writing for the platform did have its pros. For the most part, I was given free reign to write expressively about what was in my heart with articles such as …
The editor loved that last one – “Great piece!” she told me.
So let me take you back – way back to when I first started working for MadameNoire in 2013. I was hired as their business news writer and I was working under a mentally unstable maniac called Tonya Garcia. She was one of those closed-minded editors who didn’t know how to separate what the people wanted to read versus what she wanted to read.
For instance, she was obsessed with publishing news about Cory Booker, but the stats clearly showed readers did not give a f*** about Cory Booker. I didn’t say anything though. When you’re a journalist who’s fresh in the industry, you don’t say sh**. You keep that mouth shut! Because, of course, the editor “knows best.”
Except for the Kardashians – that’s the one thing I spoke up against. Readers consistently whined about us posting content about the Kardashians, but Tonya kept asking me to write stories on them. Even though I was a business writer, she somehow found SOME way to make them “fit” into the category – like when Kim Kardashian launched a baby line.
I’m not joking. The readers really f***ing hated when we wrote about the Kardashians:
So I told Tonya that I refused to write about the Kardashians. My name are on these stories, not hers, and my reputation is on the line by continuing to force feed Kardashian bullsh** to the public.
Now. Here’s where things got hairy. In 2015, there were rumors that the business section was going to be cut. Unsurprisingly, people were flocking to read about Meagan Good, Kevin Hart, and Sanaa Lathan, but skipping over the entrepreneurship and business articles. Every now and then I’d interview a senior vice president from AT&T, a high-ranking officer at Major League Baseball, or a reality TV star, but those were few and far in between – people cared more about gossip than financial advice.
Tonya told me that she would no longer be needing news articles from us, but she will be accepting “features,” which are basically when a writer interviews a “person of interest” and writes an article about him or her. For an example, check out my article on Bad Girls Club star Tanisha Thomas.
I didn’t mind – features were $80 a piece! However, this is when we started to bump heads. We had a completely different idea of what worked with our readers and what didn’t.
I pitched an idea for a 15-year-old girl who already had two degrees and was starting her own psychology practice! She turned that down but asked me to write an article about a woman launching a hot sauce business. The first thing I thought was, “YOU TURN DOWN A 15-YEAR-OLD MASTERMIND, BUT YOU WANT ME TO WRITE AN ARTICLE ON A WOMAN MAKING FUCKING HOT SAUCE?!”
Is this bitch serious? What sense does that make?
Anyway, we ended up clashing, and next thing I knew, one of my fellow writers (shout out to Ann!) told me that Tonya left. I don’t know whether she got fired or she jumped ship, but her ass just upped and left and got the f*** out of there.
Of course, I was low-key happy. She was an absolute cancer to the site – and she knew it. The business site was being dragged down to its death because she didn’t know how to “read” our readers.
I, too, left MadameNoire in 2015. Moravia IT hired me to travel descriptions for Google. But after a year or so, everyone was laid off from the project. I went onto writing for a whole bunch of websites, but I started to miss MadameNoire again. As I mentioned earlier, it was the only platform that allowed me to be creatively free!
Tonya wouldn’t be there, so why not give it another shot?
I eased my way back into MadameNoire into the welcoming arms of Beth (name changed because I really like her and I don’t want her name showing up on SEO), the managing editor of MadameNoire.
But before re-signing the contract, she told me one thing that made me give MadameNoire a BIG side-eye.
Y’all know I always come with receipts. Here’s the e-mail screenshot:
The email said that payments are delayed by TWO MONTHS when our contract said that writers are supposed to get paid every 30 days. I needed work, and when you’re desperate, you agree to some f***ed up shit. So I begrudgingly obliged.
Y’all – that two months became THREE months!
You do not know how many times I wanted to come up into the MadameNoire offices on some Rihanna shit and be all like …
On top of that, there was a lot going on behind the scenes that they weren’t telling us! MadameNoire, originally owned by Moguldom Media Group, was being bought up by iOne (responsible for channels like TVOne and RadioOne). I didn’t know any of this until I put “two and two” together after being sent a new contract without ANY explanation.
Okay, so now you’re probably wondering, “What the f*** was going on with the money situation?”
I didn’t know at first. And I was tired of asking Beth (the middeman between writers and accounting) when I was getting my money. She had her own sh*t to deal with. And although she’s a great editor in her own right, she’s still human – WTF does she care about me getting paid? She was getting paid, so to her, that’s all that mattered. So I bypassed Beth and I contacted accounting directly. I basically asked “where the F*** is my money?” in a nice, polite manner.
To give you some back story, as a writer at MadameNoire, you send the editor an invoice at the end of the month – you itemize all your articles and list how much each article costs. The invoice is then double-checked by accounting and they process your payment.
THESE BITCHES – ok, let me not get upset right now. I was expecting payment for my June articles in August (remember, two month delay). September rolls around, nothing. Accounting basically tells me, “See what had happened was you made a mistake on your invoice – one of your articles is priced at $50 when it’s supposed to be $40. Fix it.”
What mistake? My contract clearly states that slideshows are $50! WTF are you saying, you dumb gremlin? Okay, I didn’t say that, but y’all I was thinking it. If you suspected there was something wrong with my invoice, WHY DIDN’T YOU F***ING TELL ME ABOUT IT SO WE CAN NIP IT IN THE BUD AND I CAN HAVE MY MONEY? WHY WAIT ‘TIL I E-MAIL YOU?
Remember that new contract they threw at me out of the blue? Turns out some idiot in the legal department named Patricia didn’t pass it on to the accountant. This happened to other writers as well, but I was the first one to speak up on the matter (There was even a writer who hadn’t received payment since MAY, and she didn’t even say anything!)
Y’all, can I say that I was just MORE than fed up with MadameNoire at this point?
As y’all can see, I love illustrating. For almost all the articles I’ve written for MadameNoire.com, I spend hours creating digital art to create a fun, beautiful reading experience for the readers. The only resource we had were stock photos, and we all know how much stock photos SUCK.
Example of a stock photo:
So I started creating illustrations like these for my articles:
The editor, Beth, loved the time and effort I put into these digital drawings:
Considering all the sweat blood and tears I put into these illustrations, I finally worked up the courage to ask Beth for compensation with this drawing:
Here’s the answer I got:
“I’ll try to get an answer to you by the end of this month,” Beth said. Blah blah blah, new boss, blah blah budget changes. Yeah, um, let me ask you … do you think she ever got back to me by the end of that month?
And that is why writing for Madame Noire is a f***ing nightmare and I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy.
(Whew, if you read all this, you’re literally my favorite reader!) 🙂