The Guild writes,
In response to the Huffington Post’s refusal to compensate its thousands of writers in the wake of its $315 million merger with AOL, the Newspaper Guild has requested a meeting with company officials to discuss ways the Huffington Post might demonstrate its commitment to quality journalism. Thus far, the request has been ignored.
The Guild’s call to action is in support of a strike first launched by Visual Arts Source. The Guild has also demanded that The Huffington Post should stop posting paid promotional material next to other editorial content without clearly marking it as “advertorial.”
The Columbia Journalism Review reports that there is no news yet on how Arianna Huffington or the rest of the AOL crew will respond. I also reached out to Arianna and her top level staff, no word back yet. At a recent paidContent media conference in New York, Huffington was quoted saying she found the idea of unpaid bloggers going on strike as ridiculous as celebrities and personalities boycotting self-promotional (unpaid) television appearances. “Go ahead! Go on strike! What does it matter?” she said. “[N]o one really notices!”
A bit of disclosure: I wrote several unpaid articles for the Huffington Post last summer during my transition from a South American based robot reporter to full blown NYC tech blogger. And, god I cringe as I write this, (because Arianna is to bloggers what Cruella de Ville is to spotted puppies), but I understand why the Huffington Post doesn’t pay its bloggers.
It’s the same reason why an aspiring 21-year old record producer works an unpaid internship at Def Jam or a poet decides to live in a 10-person closet in Bushwick until The New Yorker finally accepts their haiku. If I had wanted to make easy money and have a steady job I would’ve stayed in ad sales. I used my writing gig at the Huffington Post purely for exposure and access and it helped me land the job I have today. Word to the unpaid writers out there- blogging for The Huffington Post is a stepping stone not a ladder; hop off and move onto greener pastures as soon as you can.
Writing is so fulfilling for me, just like working in art, fashion, music or filmmaking is for others. Having an awesome, creative job means that you worked for free at some point in your life, either eating cheese and toast or living off of Daddy’s credit card. (I did neither, but I’m a born charmer.) Obviously, getting paid is nice, and a $315 million dollar pay day from AOL is nice too.
So, Arianna, how about a draw? Cut down the quantity and up the quality by telling some aspiring writers no and telling the rest of the writers that their submissions are not guaranteed payment if the content isn’t right. Then pay your writers $10 per published post to at least pay for their cheese and toast.
Disagree with me? There’s a Facebook page for your rants.