Asking Arianna for change

Graphic from the Guild Freelancers of the California Media Workers Guild, posted on the Newspaper Guild's

Open letters to publications’ management are a last-ditch tactic to right wrongs and spur change—but as we’ve seen recently, they can be effective.

Now, adding his voice to many others asking the Huffington Post to reconsider its approach to compensating writers, comes Bernie Lunzer, president of the Newspaper Guild-CWA, with an open letter to Arianna Huffington.

In the letter, Lunzer writes that the Guild wants to sit down with Huffington to “discuss the future of journalism.” Specifically, how HuffPo, where posts about workers’ rights are not uncommon, can continue to compensate many of its bloggers with “exposure” alone, especially in light of its recent $350-million acquisition by AOL.

This post on the California Media Workers Guild Freelancers blog gives numerous examples of prominent HuffPo bloggers who have garnered respect for the site with their writing but who have received little or no financial compensation. One example:

Molly Secours drew plenty of attention to the Huffington Post with her blogs on racial disparities in education, employment and criminal justice. Readers left hundreds of comments, suggesting it was Arianna who was enjoying unprecedented exposure as a result of the relationship. The closest Secours came to compensation was a generic email embracing bloggers as “part of the family.”

The Huffington Post has responded to the news that some of its bloggers are joining a digital picket line. In its defense, HuffPo notes that it does employ editors (143), writers, and reporters, and that its unpaid bloggers know when they’re getting into when they sign up, and many of them benefit a great deal from the exposure their work gets on the site.

But exposure, as the above poster notes, doesn’t put food on the table. All together, will the voices of the California Media Workers Freelance Guild, the Newspaper Guild, and Visual Arts Source‘s writers be loud enough to get Huffington’s attention? We’ll be following this action as it progresses.

Posted on March 30, 2011 at 9:41 am by editor · · Tagged with: , , , , , ,

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