Ms. Khan’s publicist asked Newsweek for £35,000 as payment for an op-ed.
After two weeks of silence, Reham Khan opened up about her life as the wife of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf chief Imran Khan, and their subsequent divorce, in an article that appeared in The Guardian’s Life and Style section on Nov. 17.
In the article, she highlights the abuse she faced at the hands of certain members of the PTI and offers a candid view of the problems she encountered during the 10 months she was married. But the article was not commissioned for The Guardian. In the interest of full disclosure, Newsweek Pakistan would like to clarify it pitched the article to Khan on Nov. 3. This newsmagazine requested Khan address the media backlash she faced following her divorce and she was initially hesitant but eager to share her side of the story.
Newsweek Pakistan’s standard op-ed rate is Rs. 10 per published word and this newsmagazine was led to believe this was sufficient until the article was reverted to her on Nov. 8, a day after she submitted it, for post-editing approval. By that point, Khan had hired a publicist who took over correspondence with Newsweek Pakistan.
Shazana Rajah, the publicist, asked Newsweek to ‘hold’ the article until remuneration had been agreed upon to which Newsweek reiterated its offer. In response, Rajah said this was insufficient and she was “potentially aiming for the £35K mark” alongside a “guarantee” of coverage in Newsweek’s various international editions. She also asked Newsweek Pakistan to feature Khan’s article as its cover story.
In response, Newsweek told Rajah the sum was excessive and contacted Khan directly to explain its circumstances. She claimed she “had no idea” that her publicist had asked for such an exorbitant amount but did not clarify if she was willing to rescind the offer. Rajah sent a subsequent email, however, claiming the sum was justified because the “heightened interest on Ms. Reham” [sic] had “led to a dramatic increase in [her] security and accommodation” needs.
This newsmagazine then offered to raise its rate to Rs. 100/word and offered to donate the full amount to a charity of Khan’s choice. Khan appeared to agree, on the condition that her article be featured in Newsweek’s international editions. Newsweek Pakistan was set to proceed until Raja contacted the newsmagazine once again and inquired about remuneration.
She also explained that Khan had a great deal of attention on her right now, including from BBC World News, Newsweek Middle East, and several other TV channels, among others. At that point, Newsweek politely declined to run the article edited by its staff and wished Khan the best in her future endeavors. A few days later, on Nov. 13, Rajah sent another email to Newsweek asking if the publication would reconsider. After the publication’s experiences with Rajah and Khan, it decided against pursuing this any further.
Less than a week later, Newsweek Pakistan’s edit of Khan’s article was featured on The Guardian.
Newsweek Pakistan, naturally, has no claim of ownership on Khan’s article and is glad she was able to find a place for it—for free—at The Guardian. However, we also feel the edited version of the article, which was worked on at Newsweek Pakistan, should not have been forwarded to other publications. This defies the ethical standards that Khan has been demanding the media aspire to in recent weeks.