Our contributors and their most memorable paychecks

These journalists from around the world contributed to the second issue of the ADP ReThink Quarterly and shared the stories of their most memorable paydays.

28 June 2021

Adejoke Adeboyejo

Adejoke Adeboyejo is a freelance writer and journalist based in Lagos, Nigeria. Having worked in human resources for more than 12 years, she now writes about the workplace, women’s issues and the environment.

Her most memorable paycheck: “The first payment I received after becoming self-employed as a freelance writer. I was paid $30 for writing a travel story about using public transit in Lagos.”

Kabir Agarwal

Kabir Agarwal is an independent journalist from India who writes on climate change, business and the economy. He has contributed to the Times of India, Caravan magazine, Al Jazeera and most recently worked as a national reporter at The Wire, India’s leading independent news website. In 2018, he was awarded the Red Ink Award for excellence in journalism.

His most memorable paycheck: “Probably the prize money I received after winning an award for a series of stories I wrote on the crisis faced by farmers in northwest India. I was very proud to be recognized by an organization of journalists for my work.” 

Dr. Bernardo Bátiz Lazo

Dr. Bernardo Bátiz Lazo is Professor of FinTech History and Global Trade at Northumbria University in Newcastle upon Tyne, UK. He is a fellow of the Royal Historical Society and the Academy of Social Sciences. He read economics and history and received a doctorate in business administration from the Alliance Manchester Business School. He joined Northumbria after appointments at Bangor, Leicester, Open University and Queen’s Belfast.

His most memorable paycheck: “My first full-time job was as a computer programmer in payroll for Mexico’s transport ministry. Every other week we processed and printed 70,000 Treasury checks on a special kind of green paper. Because of hyperinflation in the 1980s and 1990s, my paycheck was probably worth less than $2 in today’s money. But I was very proud to follow family tradition and give it to my mom.”

Puja Bhattacharjee

Based in Kolkata, India, Puja Bhattacharjee is a freelance multimedia journalist. She has written for national and international publications on health, science, public policy, LGBTQ+ issues, and art and culture.

Her first paycheck: “It was in May 2012, and it was for 25,000 INR ($343). I had just started working for a public policy magazine in Delhi, India. I wanted to go on a shopping spree with my first paycheck. Unfortunately, I dislocated my right elbow soon after and ended up spending most of it on medical bills.”

Ali H.O. Bnayan

Ali H.O. Bnayan is an archeologist specializing in cuneiform at the Iraq Museum in Baghdad. He studied archaeology at the University of Kufa in Iraq and previously worked at the Documentary Center for Najaf Heritage. He is currently working on a new project focused on reviving cuneiform and the Sumerian language.

His most memorable payday: “During my graduate studies in 2018, I was sitting in al-Qishla, a former Ottoman military barracks that is now a cultural hub in the heart of Baghdad. I was writing cuneiform texts on pieces of clay just for fun when a foreign tourist saw my work and bought 10 pieces. I will always remember this.” 

Rina Diane Caballar

Based in New Zealand, Rina Diane Caballar is a freelance journalist. She has written for publications including the BBC, The Boston Globe and The Atlantic.

Her most memorable paycheck: “I was paid $50 for one of the first articles I wrote, a listicle about Filipino food. That was the moment I knew I could make a living as a writer.”

Zoe Cooper

Zoe Cooper is a writer and designer from New York, based in Berlin. She covers the intersection of visual culture (art, design, film) and technology for publications including Vox, Artsy, TASCHEN and Disegno.

Her most memorable paycheck: “When I was in high school, I was paid $120 to organize a retired historian’s book collection.” 

Grace Dobush

Based in Berlin, Grace Dobush is the editor of the ADP ReThink Quarterly. She has written for publications including Fortune, Wired, Handelsblatt and Quartz. 

Her most memorable paycheck: “My first book, a business guide for part-time crafters, was published in 2009, and I was paid a flat fee for writing it. The first check for Crafty Superstar was more money than I had ever received at one time. I put most of it towards my credit card and student loans.”

Gil Kaufman

Based in Cincinnati, Ohio, Gil Kaufman is a freelance journalist whose work has appeared in Billboard Magazine, MTV News, Wired, Rolling Stone, Fodor’s and the original web-only music magazine, Addicted to Noise. 

Most memorable paycheck: “As a midwestern suburban kid who wished I’d grown up around the corner from CBGB in New York’s East Village in the 1970s, getting to write the liner notes — and interview the band — for a 2002 Rhino Records re-issue of 1983’s ‘Subterranean Dreams’ by the Ramones was a dream come true.”

Edgar Maciel

Edgar Maciel is a multimedia journalist based in São Paulo. He is an editor for a Brazilian TV channel and also an international correspondent, writing for national and international publications on politics, economy and society.

His most memorable paycheck: “The first one I received as a journalist in São Paulo. I’m from Porto Alegre, in southern Brazil, and I moved to this giant city in 2013. With this salary I was able to pay the rent on my first apartment where I lived alone.” 

Wienda Parwitasari

Wienda Parwitasari is a Jakarta-based freelance photographer with a passion for journalism, documentary, travel and stage photography. She was formerly a deputy photo editor for websites of The Jakarta Post.

Her most memorable paycheck: “While I was working as a contract photographer at a government ministry in 2020, the pay was all cash in hand. But I insisted on a bank transfer for safety reasons and so I could better manage expenses.”

Henrik Roonemaa

Henrik Roonemaa is an Estonian tech journalist with more than 20 years experience. Currently he writes for the news portal Geenius.ee, a website he co-founded six years ago. He also hosts tech podcasts and radio shows in Estonia and gives frequent talks at events.

His most memorable paycheck: “Every paycheck since founding my own company has been memorable. Everyone told me it couldn’t be done; there’s no room for another news portal in Estonia. But we did it anyway, and we’ve been successful, which sometimes still amazes me. It feels good to be able to pay my own salary.”


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