The Pool freezes commissions amid journalists' pay row

The Pool freezes commissions amid journalists' pay row

Lifestyle website The Pool has reportedly frozen commissions and regular columns while it struggles to pay a backlog owed to journalists.

A number of freelancers took their complaints public, saying on Twitter they had not been paid by the online resource for months, prompting the resource to halt new commissions. Editor Cate Sevilla told Press Gazette that The Pool is going through a financial restructure but is taking action to ensure the issue is resolved.

“We’re a small business that’s going through a financial restructure, which includes changing accountants,” she told Press Gazette. “We’re doing everything within our capacity to resolve the matter as urgently as possible. I’ve frozen new commissions, including our regular columns, until this has been resolved.”

Sevilla, formerly of Buzzfeed, also tweeted a lengthy thread discussing the situation last week, saying: “It’s been going on for a while, I know that, and I’m working with my colleagues and the other editors here to try and control the parts that are actually within our control, to try and offset the (many) parts that are not.”

When The Bookseller contacted The Pool for comment, the automatic reply read that due to “the large volume of emails we are dealing with at the moment, we might not be as prompt as we'd like in getting back to you”. Another automatic reply to its general “Hello@thepoolltd.com” reads: "If you’re emailing a pitch, we'd love to hear from you."

The National Union of Journalists has said it is dealing with members who have not been paid and is concerned about the situation, Press Gazette said.

The Pool Ltd's financial statement filed with Companies House in December revealed the company had incurred a net loss of £1.84m. “These factors indicate the existence of uncertainties which may cast doubt over the company’s ability to continue as a going concern,” the report for the financial year until end of March 2018, reads. “The company is reliant on the continued support of its shareholders and the funds raised by them whilst the business is in the development phase.”

Sevilla took over editorship of The Pool from one of its co-founders, Sam Baker, last September. Baker is now chief content officer.

The website was launched in March 2015 by Baker and radio presenter Lauren Laverne and features a wide range of journalists, as well as comprehensive book content such as its regular Bedtime Bookclub feature. It has joined with Pan Macmillan on a number of projects including a shared reading experience and live event for Kate Morton’s sixth novel The Clockmaker’s Daughter (Pan Mac).

Pan Mac has also published two lifestyle books with The PoolMy Everything Book in 2017 and Life Honestly, the following year. Last year The Pool also partnered with the Hay Festival for the first time on a public campaign to choose 100 books by women from the last 100 years and in 2017 it joined Virago on creating the New Crime Writer Award.