Survey of HuffPo bloggers finds they want to be paid

In a shocking revelation, a study of Huffington Post bloggers by researchers at UC Santa Barbara’s Carsey-Wolf Center—which included analyzing 500 press clippings about AOL’s $315-million acquisition of HuffPo and a survey of HuffPo’s most frequent contributors—found that they think they deserve to be paid for their labour, which requires their time, effort, and numerous skills.

Here is a summary of the study’s results, from the Carsey-Wolf website:

  • Ninety-six percent of those surveyed believe that their postings are equal to or more valuable than contributions made by paid editors and curators at HuffPo.
  • Sixty-nine percent believe bloggers should share in the $315 million payday.
  • A majority (54%) say HuffPo should develop a flat-rate payment schedule for contributors (based on words per post, for example).
  • Most respondents (54%) say HuffPo bloggers should press their case through some form of concerted action, such as online organizing or unionization.
  • Despite mixed feelings about the merger, the majority (92%) of our sample indicates it will continue writing for HuffPo after the merger.
  • Almost half (46%) of our respondents say they will contribute because they benefit from the exposure their work receives at HuffPo, which in turn generates ancillary opportunities, such as book sales or consulting jobs.

Early reactions to the survey’s results from media analysts Jim Romanesko and Jeff Bercovici, in his post for Forbes.com, highlight the final finding listed above, that almost half of unpaid HuffPo writers are willing to keep contributing whether or not they are paid. The lawsuit brought against Huffington and AOL by unpaid bloggers, led by Jonathan Tasini, says Bercovici, could be bolstered by the other results, which show that the writers believe they deserve a share of the company’s value. Same goes for the Newspaper Guild’s request to its writers to stop contributing to HuffPo for free. But Bercovici ends his post with: “Most, as it turns out, agree with Arianna Huffington’s claim that the exposure the site gives its volunteer contributors is compensation enough.”

That’s quite a jump in reasoning, we think, to assume that because they are willing to go on contributing to HuffPo, these writers “agree with” Huffington’s repeated assertion that they don’t deserve financial compensation. In fact, the other findings of the survey run counter to that argument, especially the 96 per cent of who think their postings are equal to or more valuable than posts by HuffPo‘s paid staff. It might not be that these writers agree with her, but, sadly, that they don’t think it’s possible to change her mind.

Posted on May 12, 2011 at 8:30 am by editor · · Tagged with: , , , , , ,

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