From The Raw Story:
The Huffington Post rebuffed a union boycott call over its practice of using unpaid bloggers, saying most of them are “thrilled to contribute” despite not being paid. The Newspaper Guild, a union of US media workers with 26,000 members, urged contributors to The Huffington Post earlier this week to stop providing free content to the news and opinion website.
Looks like Arianna’s never going to get back to me regarding my request to discuss money she owes to writers who, over the years, helped make HuffPo the commodity she recently sold to AOL for $315 million. She was a no-show for our date at Craft in NYC and hasn’t responded to any of my tweets. Oh, the pain of being rebuffed!
Her mouthpiece Mario Ruiz said there’s a big difference between paid staffers and writers who didn’t get paid but were “thrilled” to contribute articles. Well, obviously. Staffers are on salary and presumably enjoy a benefits package, but how does that disqualify non-staffers from payment? Even the humblest newspapers — I’ve worked for a few of them — usually pay contributors a nominal amount, if only to acknowledge we’re all in the same trade.
Wait, I think I know… Ruiz made sure he referred to the unpaid writers as bloggers. His implicit point was there is something less legitimate about an article written as an online post, even if it’s used by a for-profit online publication. Which implies online news publications are still, in some ways, less legitimate than print publications. Ain’t it ironic.
There is a name for people who write pieces for publication and don’t expect payment in return. Online or off, these people are called letter writers. There’s a name for people who work on- or off-site for a business, for free. They’re called interns.
And there’s a name for Arianna Huffington and business owners like her –several names, in fact. I’m trying to be polite, so I’ll use Chris Hedges’ term — “charter members of the exploitative class.” These are people in privileged positions who have enough capital to start a business with good prospects to succeed. They tend to build their businesses with non-union and underpaid — sometimes unpaid — workers, then sell them at huge profits.
Sometimes these business owners call themselves liberals or progressives, but they often have more in common with people who have nothing but contempt for unions and working people in general.
Arianna, meet the Koch brothers. Or maybe you guys already are acquainted.