Huffington Post Defends Itself: An Analysis

Former unpaid contributor, current paid editor of Huffington Post’s Eat the Press –  the man with the best name for a blogger ever – Jason Linkins has written a post titled “How The Huffington Post Works (In Case You Were Wondering).”

Linkins writes:

This is how it all works. Yes, The Huffington Post is like a public square, for conversation. But that’s been built and maintained by people who work at it every single day, at all hours. We’re glad to have created that space, and we’re overjoyed that it gets filled every day, and we’re happy to promote the writing of others. But the building and the maintaining and the promoting of that space for people to play — that’s takes daily work, and that’s a big part of what I’m paid to do.

Is the title a typo? Shouldn’t it be “How Huffington Post Worked“? It was a public square and a not yet profitable media start up. That was almost six years ago. Now it’s a billion dollar media empire that refuses to pay freelancers. They employ some people. They even employ journalists. They also drive down the value of freelance work by making syndication a compensation.

Linkins uses this example:

When John Kerry writes an op-ed for us, he’s not angling to make $50. Ditto for people like Alec Baldwin. Robert Reich makes regular contributions to his own blog — he typically asks HuffPost and TPM to cross-post the content so that it reaches as wide a possible audience. If you are, say, the communications director of NARAL, you get paid for your contribution to the Huffington Post…BY NARAL, the organization that gives you a salary to disseminate your message.

An organization or a celebrity (John Kerry, by the way is the richest member of Congress) using the Huffington Post for publicity is not the same thing as a struggling solo “independent” journalist, essayist or writer whose market is evaporating being replaced by exposure and “dissemination.” The comparison seems tone deaf. Should Huffington Post pay everyone? No. They don’t publish everyone. Should they (now that they are a billion dollar corporation) pay freelancers and ACTUAL independent voices? Seems like a great idea. Fifty bucks to a billionaire Senator is actually nothing – but $50 for a normal human being can buy a lot of groceries.

Even YouTube has a revenue sharing program. Yes, you can “broadcast yourself” and get paid…cash. That works.