What Mainstream Publishers Don't Want You to Know: Cataloguing Grief
Between 1999 and 2006, 17 magazine sales agents working in crews around the country were killed in traffic accidents, in some cases resulting in convictions of vehicular homicide and manslaughter, as well as careless driving and homicide by intoxicated use of a vehicle.
In the first seven months of 2008, 23 agents or managers — some of whom were previous offenders — have been charged with the following:
• Second degree murder
• Second degree attempted murder
Rice Owls Mens Basketball vs. Louisiana Tech Bulldogs Mens Basketball
TicketsSat., Feb. 25, 7:00pm
Gridiron Glory: The Best of Pro Football HOF -- 10AM-6PM
TicketsSun., Feb. 26, 10:00am
Gridiron Glory: The Best of Pro Football HOF -- 10AM-3PM
TicketsMon., Feb. 27, 10:00am
Rice Owls Men's Baseball vs. Pepperdine Waves Men's Baseball
TicketsFri., Mar. 3, 6:30pm
• Sexual battery by restraint
• Assault and battery on a police
• Attempted rape
• False imprisonment
• Possession and delivery of a
• Identity theft
• Child labor law violations
• Breaking and entering
• Simple assault
• Sales fraud
• Vehicle theft
• Felony trespass
No discussion of this industry is complete without mentioning the work of Phil Ellenbecker, whose 18-year-old daughter was killed in the 1999 Wisconsin van wreck. Quite simply, Ellenbecker, who lives in Wisconsin, believes the industry murdered his daughter.
Ellenbecker founded the Dedicated Memorial Parents Group and runs its Web site, www.travelingsalescrews.info. He has demanded tighter regulations from legislators, the National Field Selling Association, the Magazine Publishers Association and company owners themselves. His Web site contains information relating to more than 300 felony cases within the industry since the 1980s. It is a catalog of grief — so much so that NFSA President Vinnie Pitts has said, "It's so negative, I don't like to look at it."
Ellenbecker's vitriol toward the industry sometimes gets the best of him. In 2006, he called Nina Link, president of the Magazine Publishers Association, at her home, to tell her about the latest death of a sales agent. When Link hung up on him, he fired an e-mail to Chris Nolan, the MPA's general counsel, which read in part, "Next time I call, tell her to listen to what I have to say! Tell her from me not to hang up. I have been very patient with all of you. Don't over extend your expectations of what will happen next." Ellenbecker received a visit by FBI agents shortly thereafter.
Somewhat scary outbursts aside, Ellenbecker's coverage of the industry is invaluable, and this story could not have been done without the help of his research.
Get the ICYMI: Today's Top Stories Newsletter Our daily newsletter delivers quick clicks to keep you in the know
Catch up on the day's news and stay informed with our daily digest of the most popular news, music, food and arts stories in Houston, delivered to your inbox Monday through Friday.