Did NY Mag Rush Their James Frey Feature Online Only After Learning OfWSJ Scoop?

by Hillary Busis | 1:54 pm, November 12th, 2010

James Frey

Readers of both and the Wall Street Journal’s website may have noticed that in the wee small hours of the morning, both publications posted similar but competing articles about author James Frey and Full Fathom Five, the book-packaging company he launched to churn out young adult fiction. As it turns out, New York’s version was rushed online only after the magazine learned that the WSJ was about to scoop them on a story they’d had in the works for weeks.

The articles’ tones vary drastically. The WSJ’s Katherine Rosman and Lauren A. E. Schuker offer a measured view of Frey’s operation, noting how little Frey pays the young writers he employs (“they get $250 upon signing and another $250 upon completion of a book”) as well as how successful its first major product, a story called I Am Number Four that’s being adapted into a movie by Michael Bay and Steven Spielberg, has been. New York Magazine’s Suzanne Mozes, by contrast, is unabashedly negative in her (much-longer) piece. She accuses Frey of rampant exploitation and implies that the bestselling author is an insufferable, amoral egomaniac (“he’s in it to ‘change the game’ and ‘move the paradigm’; he won’t write anything that doesn’t change the world,” she writes).

As it turns out, Mozes has a personal ax to grind against Frey. In her article, she recalls how she was once in talks to write a book for Full Fathom Five. She implies that Frey ultimately declined to work with her because she requested a more equitable contract: “Twenty-eight minutes after I sent an e-mail requesting amendments to the contract, I received an e-mail from Frey rescinding his offer to collaborate. ‘We loved the idea that we eventually arrived at together,’ he wrote. ‘At this time, though, we don’t think this going to work out.’”

Rosman and Schuker, by contrast, have no connection to Frey outside of their article.

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