Mirror Awards Take Heat For Honoring Huffington

Advertising Age‘s Simon Dumenco is outraged that Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications is awarding Arianna Huffington its Fred Dressler Lifetime Achievement Award at next week’s Mirror Awards, and not just because AdAge has never won a Mirror prize. Dumenco is upset because, to him, Huffington represents all that is wrong in the world of journalism right now.

Dubbing Huffington’s Mirror Award the “Most Bitterly Ironic Media Award” in his column today, Dumenco said that the Newhouse school, which trains journalists, “should know better than to honor a woman who thinks journalists should work for free!”

He went on:

“Funny how the fact that The Huffington Post fails to pay most of its bloggers didn’t come up when Newhouse Dean Lorraine Branham gushed about the blog mistress in a prepared statement: ‘Arianna Huffington was ahead of the curve with HuffPo. She embraced the use of new media but never forgot that no matter where or how you tell the story, content is still king. This is what we teach our students.’

Oh, give me a break! Content, in Arianna’s world, is not king, and it never was. Link bait is king; opportunism is king. …

I’ve been raging about HuffPo’s devaluation of content — and, ergo, content creators — since late 2007, when HuffPo co-founder Ken Lerer told USA Today the company had no plans to ever pay its bloggers: ‘That’s not our financial model. We offer them visibility, promotion and distribution with a great company.'”

Dumenco also said that he took himself out of the running for a Mirror Award this year because he disagreed with the involvement of certain media players, including Huffington Post CEO Betsy Morgan and David Zaslav, CEO of Discovery Communications. Yet that quiet protest was not enough to prove his point; he needed to speak out against the awards’ alleged missteps again today. Whether his outrage comes from a bitter place at never having won a Mirror Award, Dumenco is fair to point out that not all of the Huffington Post’s methods have been in the best interest of journalism. By choosing to reward Huffington, Newhouse is not condoning those practices, but simply praising Huffington herself for being “ahead of the curve.” But maybe they are one and the same.

How will Newhouse Dean Branham or Huffington respond to Dumenco’s critism? We’ll tell you next week, when we report from the Mirrors.

Earlier: Web Voters Award Sklar Two Mirror Award People’s Choice Prizes

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