The bottom line is Sports Illustrated claim, in public, to have paid me, and they haven't. In addition, they claim my work is substandard, which is hard to believe not because I am a vanity case, but because the type of article is a Q&A. Which means there is almost no scope for me to add flowers to the writing. I simply asked the questions they asked me to ask, and a few more, and the answers are Cameron's. You can't seriously claim the material is substandard, unless of course I failed to record Cameron's responses correctly, or transcribed them clumsily. You read the Q&A and tell me if you think their assessment is true? I don't. But it goes further than that.
For the record, I am a professional freelance writer and photographer. In October SASI [SA Sports Illustrated] commissioned me to do an article on Cameron van der Burgh. They gave me a list of questions, they gave me a word count and how much they would pay, and they gave me a deadline.
I emailed them a story from somewhere just below Namibia [I was on assignment for another magazine at the time] after getting numerous calls and emails from Angus Powers. I did the interview over the phone at around 3pm, and then worked through the night, from around 2am-4am to get the story done, and then sent it off.
Around two weeks later I got an email from Powers claiming:
- there was a conflict with Men's Health [also a Touchline title] who were also running the story
- that Ryk Neethling [Cameron's manager and agent] was unhappy with the story
- Cameron van der Burgh had said [so claims Angus Powers] I was unprofessional and unprepared for ther interview.
- SASI have also broadcast via twitter on 3 November that I have been paid a 'kill fee'.
- SASI say the story won't be used because it is substandard.
- Over the phone editor Brendan Cooper claims my question 'How do you swim breaststroke? What's the secret?' is unprofessional.
Unfortunately, I have a record of an email from Ryk to whom I showed the interview which calls into question the claim from Powers that Ryk wasn't happy with the interview. And certainly, van der Burgh's answers should speak for themselves. The bulk of the interview, including the question regarding Graeme Smith, come from Powers himself? So think about it, what is SASI really unhappy with?
Brendan Cooper's claim that the first question, 'How do you swim breastroke' is inappropriate is evidence that Cooper knows very little about swimming, and claims to be an expert. I have swum provincially on several occasions, I swam with the same coach and often at the time when Ryk was based in the Free State.
The claim that I was unprepared is also false. I conducted the interview with a printout of Powers' questions, asked all of these, and also used a sample of the current Q&A during questioning and writing to make sure the styles matched.
Worse, SASI claim in public to have paid me a kill fee. This is a matter of fact, and it simply has not happened. That is clearly dishonest and as far as I'm concerned, unacceptable.
For me the simple truth is that ordinary work that is requested should be paid for as per normal. Don't thumbsuck excuses. I have a lot riding on my reputation and obviously these accusations and these incidents don't help my career. Other publications will obviously be concerned and wary to do business with me, unless I can clear my name. I've used social media to help with that process, because I think it is obvious that I have done my job, professionally and properly, and honestly, exactly as I have been commissioned. Why then do they not do theirs?