News Guild Ends HuffPost Boycott

The National Writers Union and the Newspaper Guild-CWA are ending their boycott of the Huffington Post, which was launched in March and asked writers to stop writing for free on Arianna’s site.

As may be painfully clear by looking at the Huffington Post, not many writers withheld their work. (Although some of them did launch HuffingtonPostUnionofBloggers, which had the distinction of also not paying writers for their work, but without a CEO who could sell the property to AOL for millions. We’ve reached out to HPUB to find out what will happen to the site now.)Update: Despite a statement on HPUB saying that the site is affiliated with the same chapter of the National Writers Union that had been leading the boycott, HPUB was and is not related to the boycott. More TK…

At any rate, the NWU announced today it is ending the boycott—Romenesko has the press release—and the Newspaper Guild published a similar announcement Thursday.

We have asked, from the beginning, that Arianna Huffington and her staff meet with us to discuss the need for a model that compensates journalists for their efforts. Such meetings have now taken place, and the company has publicly pledged to work with us to resolve our differences.
We are pleased to see HuffPost leaders stating so clearly the importance of paid journalism, not only to our society as a whole, but to their own business model.
Now that we’ve opened a dialog with HuffPost, it makes sense to us to set aside the boycott as we attempt to work together and move forward. There is no single, clear cut answer to what constitutes an acceptable unpaid op/ed piece, when casual commentary crosses the line into researched analysis, or when a discussion about ideas becomes an “assignment.” These issues will need to be monitored and reassessed continually, and we think that can best happen by building a constructive relationship with HuffPost. However you feel about the Huffington Post, they are clearly a major player in emerging models of online journalism.

The end to the boycott does not affect the lawsuit led by Jonathan Tasini, the Newspaper Guild said. That suit is still ongoing.