In the wake of the sale of the Huffington Post to AOL for $315 million, liberal media maven Arianna Huffington is facing a revolt from some of her contributors who hitherto have provided news and commentary for free.
The grievance seems to be that Huffington Post contributors, regarding the huge pay day Huffington has garnered, would now like to have a piece of the action. To get what they believe is coming to them, some contributors have called for a strike.
“Bill Lasarow, Publisher and Co-Editor of Visual Art Source, announced that his organization is ‘now going on strike. For now, at least, no more content from us will appear on the Huffington Post.’
“Visual Art Source members have contributed content to the Huffington Post for free since 2010. Lasarow wrote that ‘it is unethical to expect trained and qualified professionals to contribute quality content for nothing.'”
How many Huffington Post contributors, some of whom are very well known, will join the strike is uncertain. Arianna Huffington dismissed the whole idea of a strike. “Go ahead, go on strike,” she said. She laughed at “the idea of going on strike when no one really notices.”
The idea of Huffington as a modern robber baron, growing rich off of the labor of the suffering workers, is perhaps hard to imagine. Before the sale of the Huffington Post to AOL, contributors were content to bask in whatever prestige was garnered by being published in the online news and commentary source.
Other online news and commentary pages do offer pay for content, usually a small upfront fee and a stipend based on page views. It would seem, therefore, not asking for much if the Huffington Post was to go to that kind of system, if for no other reason that Huffington claims to be a liberal and thus ought to treat the people who have made her a wealthy woman with a little dignity and respect.
Come to think of it, some of those old robber barons were not as unkind to their employees as legend suggests. Henry Ford paid his auto workers higher than the industry average, for example.
Of course one wonders how a strike against the Huffington Post would work. The Huffington Post has little physical infrastructure around which to throw up a picket line. And how will the 21st century Wobblies enforce the strike? Perhaps they could put up a page of their own listing the names of the “cyber scabs” who are helping Boss Arianna grind down the workers. In any case, the progress of the strike should be interesting to watch.
Source: Huffington Post contributors go on strike, propose collective bargaining, Stephen Nelson, The Daily Caller, March 4th, 2011