Huffington Post: Our Bloggers Like Doing It For Free

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On Thursday, the Newspaper Guild made a public plea to all unpaid writers for the Huffington Post to withdraw their services as a part of a strike against using unpaid labor in the wake of HuffPo's $315 million sale to AOL. "Just as we would ask writers to stand fast and not cross a physical picket line, we ask that they honor this electronic picket line," said the Guild in an announcement. Today, HuffPo spokesperson Mario Ruiz responded that most of the companies are "not professional writers" anyway, so they probably don't even want money. More on the battle of the press releases inside a Friday evening edition of Press Clips, our daily media round-up. Plus: the Observer's new tech site has a hit already, while the company that owns The Hollywood Reporter, Billboard, AdWeek, MediaWeek and Brandweek may have put them all up for sale. Or maybe not!

Happily Unpaid: The Newspaper Guild doesn't necessarily want money for bloggers of varying quality right away, they just want to talk about it:

The Newspaper Guild, a 26,000-member-strong national union of media workers, is committed to fair compensation for all workers, whether they are freelance bloggers or traditional employees. We are further committed to promoting quality journalism. Working for free does not benefit workers and undermines quality journalism.

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.

But The Huffington Post response is appropriately confident that they'll always have those willing to cross the picket line, so they don't have to take the threat very seriously. While touting the size of their paid newsroom -- "160 full-time editors and reporters, 17 of whom we've hired since last Monday" -- HuffPo also brushes off the challenge with a snappy conclusion:

Bottom line: nearly all of our bloggers are happy with the arrangement, and happy to access the platform and the huge audience it brings, without having to build, pay for or maintain that platform. Indeed, we are inundated with requests from people who want to blog. The proof is in the pudding: people are looking to join the party, not go home early.

Bottom line: People don't know what's good for themselves. That's not really something to be proud of, if they 'work' for you.

Start-Ups Are the Worst: Michael Yavonditte, the CEO of something called Hashable, did not respond kindly to a satirical op-ed from the New York Observer's new tech wing, Betabeat, which launched "to provide a more skeptical look at the New York tech scene." The Observer assured Yavonditte that the article was " an opinion piece and intentionally, comedically extreme in tone." He didn't get it.

Here's a lesson: no matter what the offending article says, never email phrases vaguely resembling these to a journalist or even someone with a blog. Eventually, you'll be embarrassed, if you write like this:

"I do find the quotes attributed to me to be highly offensive and frankly 'lies'. ... It's just filled with lies. I don't like liars."
...
"No one read it as parody - not even in the slightest. It was simply a piece of trash - a mean-spirited article that everyone thinks is real, and which many are shocked by. I am not going write a single thing in response other than to put you on notice that I will come after you if I ever see such nonsense again. I may come after you anyway."

And then definitely don't take to your Twitter to continue a fight that you already lost. Thanks!

For Sale or Not For Sale: The New York Post reported this morning that Prometheus Global Media, which put $70 million into revamping Billboard, AdWeek, and the rest of that magazine family, is looking to get out already because the publications keep losing money.

CEO Richard Beckman sent an email to his staff, assuring them the reports were untrue and that his team is "committed to making Prometheus Global Media into a world-class media company." The Wrap, which has a dog in the fight as a direct competitor to Beckman's Hollywood Reporter, says the exec isn't being truthful and that they company really is looking around for a buyer. From an uneducated outsider, this doesn't seem like a very safe or fun purchase. Who knows! But it's always fun to watch everyone scramble.

About That New York Times: Columnist Paul Krugman will be damned if he's going to lose readers over the just-announced paywall system, so he's informed his minions about how to sneak around it.

Meanwhile, other changes in the building include a revamped Times Magazine, which readers are responding to in a new section (previously a Letters to the Editor page) called "Reply All." (Like email, you know?) "Where is my favorite column by the intelligent and insightful Deborah Solomon, with the full-figure photo of the person being interviewed?" a woman from Florida wonders. "And no, I will not be visiting your blog," said another. "So far, I have not been able to stop fuming -- and reflecting wistfully on the demise of meaningful journalism -- to get past Page 19." The elderly are funny and have a lot of free time!

Luckily for everyone, it's the weekend again. A new edition of the magazine will be on newsstands Sunday.

[jcoscarelli@villagevoice.com / @joecoscarelli]



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3 comments
cowboy
cowboy

Huffington didn't pay her left wing nutjob bloggers while she pocketed 300 million on the sale of the post. Now they are upset...... karma karma karma ....... That is just funny as hell

She is like the rest of those nuts.. Capitalism for her, and communism for every body else.

They are getting what they have coming to them. Hopefully Huffington will get hers soon too.

Cooper
Cooper

I can't imagine most of them being good enough to require a paycheck, but those who are are getting ripped off. I mean WAPO actually pays Ezra Klein, so the Guild may be on to something.

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