AOL's $315 million acquisition of the Huffington Post may be great news for Arianna Huffington, but will it be any help to the legions of writers that currently give her content for free?
If she scales her freelancer payment habits—continuing to offer exposure in lieu of actual money—it could be terrible for journalists, further driving down the pay rates for online reporting.
So naturally the response from freelancers to Arianna's windfall is to, once again, call on her to pay a living wage for journalists. The California Freelancers Workers Guild is taking the opportunity to point out Arianna's passionate defense of the middle class in her recent book, Third World America, where Huffington wrote "It's no longer an exaggeration to say that middle-class Americans are an endangered species."
They've started a Facebook group where they also posted the argument, making the point this way:
This $315 million buyout by AOL, along with her $4 million annual salary as part of the deal, was built on the backs of hard-working writers who never saw a dime for their labor. Many of Huffington Post's most productive contributors broke news and provided astute analysis to regular beats, allowing Huffington to avoid hiring a paid journalist for the same coverage.
We call on Ms. Huffington to live up to the ideals she so earnestly professes and share some of her profits with the people responsible for the Huffington Post's 117 million unique visitors each month.
AOL has been launching a network of hyper-local news sites called Patch that also pays writers notoriously little. Will Huffington Patch be better than the sum of its parts for journalists?