While Visual Arts Source editor Bill Lasarow’s call for a boycott of Huffington Post at the beginning of March may have been initially dismissed by Arianna Huffington, it has become a whole lot tougher to ignore now. Nearly a month later the boycott is still in effect, the 26,000 member Newspaper Guild has climbed aboard, and the strike is now generating international solidarity. Lasarow has taken his cause to the U.K.’s Guardian newspaper. His most recent piece for the paper discusses the recent revelation that AOL/HuffPo is figuring out a way to differentiate “bloggers” from “journalists” and pay them accordingly.
This is a start, but not good enough – given that a large number of these “bloggers” are, in fact, professional journalists. If one part of the answer is to hire select individuals to an expanded paid staff, another part is to compensate many others who are effectively working freelance right now. There remains an equal need to distinguish between editorial content and press releases. And then, it is entirely possible that this is a response with no more purpose than to defang the Newspaper Guild, to negotiate without formally sitting down while preserving the plausible deniability that they have given in to any demands whatsoever.
Lasarow is right. The main distinction AOL/HuffPo needs to make should be between editorial and press releases, not blogging and journalism. Blogging is a skill in its own right and deserves to be compensated. Perhaps not as well compensated as proper three-source journalism. But compensated nonetheless. Work is work is work.
Previously on Fishbowl LA: Huffington to Bloggers: ‘Go Ahead, Go on Strike’