For Immediate Release

Monday, December 11, 2023

First Paw Media to Announce New Freelancer Pay Structure

Anchorage, Alaska USA—Robert Forto, the managing partner of First Paw Media, based in Willow, Alaska, recently purchased Mushing Magazine and wanted to address the freelancer and contributor pay structure as one of the first orders of business. First Paw Media is the parent company of Mushing Magazine, Dog Works Radio, Mushing [podcast], and other media brands.

It’s an unfortunate truth in the outdoor media business right now: If you’re a freelancer doing contract work for a magazine, trade journal, or website, you might have to wait a long time—sometimes months after finishing the job—to get your money.

Forto made waves this month when he posted a public letter on The Pack group addressing the problem.

As Forto noted on First Paw Media’s podcast last week, addressing payment concerns stemmed from a desire to fix a broken system in media in general, not just outdoor.

“We have to take care of our contributors, whether they are full-time or freelancers,” Forto said. Those are the people who make it all happen. Storytelling is, frankly, what it’s all about.”

On January 8, 2024, Forto will host a Zoom webinar for all content contributors at 1 P.M. AKST. During the discussion, he will present the company’s new freelancer terms, explain their reasoning, and allow questions to be asked.

A Broken System

Media companies tend to leverage a “gatekeeper” attitude against content creators who are struggling to make ends meet, according to First Paw Media’s managing partner on its podcast. Media brands take advantage of freelancers by making them believe it’s an “honorary right” to have their work published, when in fact “it’s the amazing content that helps those brands thrive in the first place.”

That arrangement, according to Forto, is short-sighted and unsustainable. Everyone must put food on the table, including the creative class, and as we’ve reported before here at First Paw Media, exposure absolutely does not pay the bills.

To fix the problem at First Paw Media, and for Mushing Magazine in particular, Forto says he wants to make his organization “the best possible beginning game and end game for anybody that wants to thrive in the category and spend their time creating content.”

“If you’re a great content creator, I don’t care if you’re 15 or 75,” he said. “If you’re a great storyteller, you should get paid. And you should get paid a market rate that is fair and allows you to feed your family.”

Since many of the industry’s best creatives have become skeptical of working with media brands, Forto believes it’s necessary to publicly announce this kind of news. “The media and particularly, our own, First Paw Media company needs to earn their trust, and that starts with making public promises—and keeping them.”

“We could have done this quietly, but if we want to attract the best people to our platforms, we must be a bit public about it,” said Forto. There are people who stopped writing for publications because they weren’t paid-or weren’t paid enough.That is not the case with Mushing Magazine’s previous owners, but in the media and creative space generally. To get people excited about working with us, we need to do something public. Now we’ve got to follow through.”

As a first step toward eliminating “long legacies of not treating people well,” Forto says First Paw Media is exploring new tools that will allow it to “pay freelancers more easily and quickly.” Permanently righting the ship, he says, will take time.


Media Contact for Robert Forto and First Paw Media:

Michele Forto

Firstpawmedia ( @)


First Paw Media Acquires Mushing Magazine (pdf link)