The Newspaper Guild, representing 26,000 media-workers across the country, will be joining Visual Arts Source publisher Bill Lasarow in his boycott of the Huffington Post. In a statement released last week declaring the boycott, the guild announced, “We feel it is unethical to expect trained and qualified professionals to contribute quality content for nothing. It is unethical to cannibalize the investment of other organizations that bear the cost of compensation and other overhead without payment for the usage of their content. It is extremely unethical to not merely blur but eradicate the distinction between the independent and informed voice of news and opinion and the voice of a shill.”
The guild is asking writers to stop contributing to HuffPo for free and for readers to avoid crossing the “electronic picket line” by visiting the site. Like Lasarow, the guild demands a pay schedule for all bloggers, as well as that “paid promotional material must no longer be posted alongside editorial content.”
This isn’t the first time HuffPo and the guild have clashed. Prior to its boycott, the guild had previously called upon HuffPo to voluntarily share some of the $315 million windfall from its sale to AOL with its unpaid bloggers. HuffPo soundly rejected that notion. HuffPo spokesman Mario Ruiz subsequently didn’t help his site’s talks with the guild when he botched president Bernie Lunzer’s name–calling him Bill in a widely circulated email.
We’ll see how well the idea of an electronic boycott holds up. So far, it looks like HuffPo‘s web traffic doesn’t seem to have suffered much in the past few days.
Previously on Fishbowl LA: HuffPo Writes To Newspaper Guild’s President, Gets His Name Wrong