Yesterday, AOL purchased The Huffington Post for $315,000,000., this was big news all over the internet. Apparently the deal was signed at the Super Bowl.
I don’t read the Huffington Post often because I don’t care for the reporting or the petty tone of their articles and I especially don’t like all the name calling going on in the comment sections.
I understand why AOL would want to purchase a brand like The Huffington Post, they are widely read and AOL is trying to rework its own image and readership. (Full disclosure here, I am a freelance writer for Patch.com which is owned by AOL)
Honestly, I could care less about this merger. What I do care about is the last line in one of the articles written on MSNBC.com about The Huffington Post.
Huffington Post grew quickly from startup to online colossus and ranks as one of the top 10 current events and global news sites. Over time, it launched city-specific pages and developed a roster of sections such as food and books. The work of its paid staff is augmented by content from news outlets and 6,000 bloggers who write for free.
The emphasis is mine.
Seems to me Ariana Huffington owes each of those bloggers around $52,500. It’s not likely to happen according to the email she sent to those 6000 bloggers. The Huffington Post is not the only big name company that doesn’t compensate its contributors if it doesn’t have to. Forbes does it too, as does CNN, and all the other big news outlets. Why buy the cow when they can get the milk for free?
When are we going to stop acting like blog sluts who give it away for free?
After I read this article I copied and pasted the paragraph into an email and sent it to fellow blogger Kathy from The Junk Drawer. Her response was I know. That kills me. Every time a writer writes for free, it means another writer is having an argument with someone about getting paid enough or at all. Hmmm, I like that. I’m putting it up on my FB wall.
Which she did and the conversation has been lively to say the least.
And it is so true. Every time a blogger willingly contributes to a website for no compensation it makes it that much harder for the rest of us who are trying to eek out a living with our writing. We need to stand together and demand that we are fairly compensated for our work.
I understand why bloggers are willing to spread their legs for little more than a free drink. Companies dangle all kinds of great enticements in front of us; free products, a profile on the page, or the promise of traffic from the site for which they are writing (that never happens), but they are never worth what we provide them. We have to start asking for cold, hard, cash.
It isn’t easy to do, sometimes the offer of a product is all we think our work is worth but if we don’t start banding together these companies are going to keep taking advantage of us for our hard work.
And writing is hard. It takes time to craft a well thought out article about any given topic. Jayne, from In Jayne’s World, wrote very aptly that I secrete blood out of every orifice every time I write anything. I do too, which is why I no longer write or contribute without getting compensated. And by ‘compensation’ I mean cash. If I don’t value my time and my writing then why on earth should I expect someone else to?
This is not to say that I won’t still do an occasional review without compensation save for the product or service, but those are supposed to be objective and if you add compensation to that mix the review might not be so objective. Of course the reviews most bloggers do are completely biased because they are getting free merchandise or services and they want to keep ’em coming. Rarely will you read a review from a blogger (unless they are already getting paid by the newsite) that isn’t positive and glowing. The fear most bloggers have is that if they write a bad review they will get black balled in the PR/Marketing world. Bloggers work hard to be noticed by PR firms and they don’t want to mess that up.
Think about that. 6000 bloggers are writing their hearts out, with no pay, so they might get noticed. And most of these companies don’t care because they know if one stands up for herself and asks for monetary compensation they can turn her down and find someone else who is willing to do it for free.
This is our Norma Rae Moment, if we don’t stand together and demand that our time and our skills are valuable we will never be properly compensated. We must stand together.
- What the Web Is Saying About AOL’s HuffPo Purchase (gigaom.com)
- AOL to buy Huffington Post in $315M deal (cbc.ca)
- What Arianna Huffington Is Telling HuffPo Bloggers About AOL Merger (slog.thestranger.com)