Friday, July 15, 2011

A message for the Huffington Post

Via @Charlotte Gore on Twitter, I find this timely rant from sci-fi writer Harlan Ellison. It's called Pay The Writer...

Now, i'm aware that some of what he says about "amateurs ruining it for the rest of us" might apply to bloggers—and we are proud of stealing the bread from the mouths of professional media whores—but his rant about a rich company asking someone to work for free most certainly applies to the Huffington Post.

Yes, as @wallaceme points out, the writers were indeed free agents and they chose to write for the damn thing, but given that it was largely their efforts that built the brand, they might have expected to see some of the cash.

Which is why I have a great deal of sympathy for the lawsuit against the Huffington Post in the US.
Tasini, who wrote more than 250 posts for The Huffington Post on an unpaid basis leading up to the site’s sale, said: “Huffington bloggers have essentially been turned into modern day slaves on Arianna Huffingtons’s plantation”. He said he was suing because “people who create content…have to be compensated” for their work.

The complainant and his lawyers believe that bloggers’ articles helped contribute to approximately a third of the sale value of the site, with about 9,000 people writing for the Huffington Post for free.

I don't necessarily think that these bloggers should win—after all, they signed a contract (I assume)—but I do, nonetheless, have a great deal of sympathy for them. The Huffington Post, after all, has no real assets or brand—other than the content that said bloggers donated.

Still, one can only assume that—even knowing that they won't get a share of any massive fucking payout—people think that the deal is worth it. After all, there appears to be no shortage of people signing up to the UK edition.


mojo said...

I always liked Harlan, just because he's a very good writer and also such a vicious chihuahua of a man. I've seen grown men strangle themselves rather than tangle with the Mighty Mouth.

Sure, he's a lefty nutter, but he's an entertaining one.

Jack Savage said...

Quality ranting.

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