Freakonomics author Stephen Dubner says magazines can learn from air-conditioner companies — which confuses me a little, but it’s something about when independent writers should get paid by magazines for the work they do. While I’m not sure I understand the analogy, I do know that for the past 17 years, Hammock enters into its payment system the invoices of writers — and photographers — “upon acceptance,” not “upon publication.” Publication dates can be months after the photo is shot or article is written and accepted, but that shouldn’t have any impact upon when the contributor gets paid.

We don’t often have the kind of major assignments that involve the long lead times that Stephen describes in his blog post. However, on a few occasions, we have contracted with independent editors and videographers for such projects and set up a relationship that takes into consideration the need to “advance” such individuals for work they are being commissioned to do.

Being fair makes a lot of sense to me.

Always an exception to the rule: I double-checked with our accounting department to make sure our policy adhered to the post I was about to publish. It does. However, on very, very rare occasions, I was told, in the tsk-tsk sort of way that accounting department people are known for, an invoice may disappear into thin air. (Translation: It gets stuck on an editor’s or art director’s desk.) Again, that’s very, very rare. And even more rare now that this post has be made.