case study

VOA News with paydesk

Sonya Laurence Green, Chief of VOA’s English to Africa Service, first began working with paydesk in 2017. Green is responsible for a team of reporters, writers, producers, editors and on-air hosts who produce television, radio and online content to an audience of 25 million across the continent of Africa.

News organisations are composed of many moving parts, individuals and teams that are continually changing to adapt to new assignments, budgets, locations, media and other needs. The dynamic administrative work involved in hiring, deploying and paying such a workforce is extremely challenging. Having an online service that not only helps news organisations find the right individuals to hire, but also manages payment, offers a tremendous savings of both time and money.

Helping VOA manages a global network of professional journalists and media professional

Voice of America (VOA) is a multimedia agency, headquartered in Washington, D.C.. They produce digital, TV, and radio content in more than 40 languages and broadcast an estimated 1,800 hours of radio and TV programming each week to approximately 236.6 million people worldwide.

Sonya Laurence Green, Chief of VOA’s English to Africa Service, first began working with paydesk in 2017. Green is responsible for a team of reporters, writers, producers, editors and on-air hosts who produce television, radio and online content to an audience of 25 million across the continent of Africa. Her team is comprised of approximately 30 professional journalists in Washington, D.C., plus dozens of reporters in North, South, East, West and Central Africa.

Upon first learning about paydesk’s online hiring and payment platform, Green was skeptical. “It seemed too good to be true,” she recalled.

Sonya Laurence Green

Chief of VOA’s English to Africa Service

After learning more about paydesk

“I was amazed and extremely pleased to find out that paydesk could provide a network of vetted freelance journalists in Africa and elsewhere in the world — that these freelance journalists could be searched by name or location, that they could be contracted to provide news on an as-needed basis, and that I would only have to generate one contract with paydesk to ensure that all the stringers would be paid in full and on time.”


How things worked before paydesk

This job was made further complicated due to VOA contracting rules stipulating the use of separate contracts for each freelance reporter, along with a “guestimate” of how many stories each of them might write during any fiscal year quarter. VOA rules also required Green to prepare each quarterly budget in advance, no matter what expenditures any breaking news​ might call for.

Time-consuming task that tied up funds

“Before using paydesk,” stated Green, “I had to work with our team in Washington, D.C., to try and identify, assess, and select freelance reporters in Africa, which was a difficult and time-consuming task, especially at this distance from the continent.” This job was made further complicated due to VOA contracting rules stipulating the use of separate contracts for each freelance reporter, along with a “guestimate” of how many stories each of them might write during any fiscal year quarter. VOA rules also required Green to prepare each quarterly budget in advance, no matter what expenditures any breaking news​ might call for.

“This was an almost impossible, time-consuming task that tied up funds and created paperwork,” stated Green. Such contracting rules were a serious obstacle in creating efficient and effective news coverage from Africa, according to Green.


How paydesk transformed VOA’s African news operation

After learning about paydesk, Green convinced management at VOA to let her do a “trial year” to test the service. Paydesk quickly became a vital resource for Green in identifying and assessing freelance reporters all across Africa and the world. "We no longer have to spend time trying to identify and cultivate reporters far away. This is a major benefit of working with paydesk.”

Saving time and simplifiing working flow

Green’s trial year with paydesk became a resounding success. Paydesk’s online platform, according to Green, saved her and her team of producers and editors several dozen hours of administrative work. Upon witnessing the time and cost savings that paydesk provided Green’s team, other VOA language services soon began enlisting paydesk’s services.

Sonya Laurence Green

Chief of VOA’s English to Africa Service

paydesk simplified Green’s workflow

“I simply tell the producers what their portion of the budget is, I track their assignments in paydesk, then review and pay one invoice at the end of the month, which covers all the freelance journalist assignments.”

paydesk has freed Green and her team to do what they truly love: cover the news. Stated Green, “Not only can I spend more time working on pressing news, programming and staffing issues, but it has empowered my designated producers more freedom to assign freelance reporters to fill content for their shows. They no longer need to come to me to make assignments.”


Other payment services don’t compare

“One year, the VOA Contracts Office forced me to split our budget between paydesk and another contract company,” stated Green. The other contract service also offered freelance journalists who could cover Africa. But, according to Green, “the other company was so inefficient, and so unsatisfactory in their service delivery, that I terminated that contract early and moved the remaining funds to paydesk.”

paydesk’s mission

According to Henry Peirse, co-founder of paydesk, “Broadcasters and publishers are having to do more for less.” Finding ways to use limited resources more effectively is a key reason why organisations like VOA are quick to adopt paydesk’s online platform.

Helping news organisations handle the administrative task of finding, hiring and paying freelance journalists was the vision behind paydesk from the start. Since its founding in 2015, the enthusiastic adoption and resulting savings by clients has convinced Peirse and many others that paydesk was a service their clients truly needed.

For freelancers working with organisations like VOA, paydesk’s service certifies they are insured for death and permanent injury during the duration of their work shift. They can also choose to receive payments in a variety of means, including direct deposit to bank accounts and via online services like PayPal.

paydesk is building the preeminent platform for finding, hiring and paying professional freelance media professionals; including journalists, camera crews, photographers, fixers, translators, on-air talent, writers and even drivers... Its global network is particularly essential to clients such as VOA’s Sonya Laurence Green.

Sonya Laurence Green

Chief of VOA’s English to Africa Service

Perfect service

“paydesk has delivered everything promised, and has worked with me to make some tweaks and changes that have made the service even more user-friendly. I would give paydesk an excellent rating.”

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