As you may have guessed from my last couple of posts, I’m in the mood for hating on Arianna Huffington. I could talk about how her website, The Huffington Post habitually refers to Hugo Chavez as a “dictator”, or how it’s filled with inane celebrity gossip, or how it tirelessly promotes Sarah Palin and her family. (When Palin’s husband won a fishing contest, the HuffPo featured an article about it.) Instead, I’m going to talk about what Huffington really cares about: money.
The Newspaper Guild and the National Writers Union have called upon bloggers not to contribute to the Huffington Post, until it agrees to pay them. This is what is known as a strike. So far, Huffington has refused to meet with the union leaders about this. It appears that Mrs. Huffington doesn’t like people telling her how to run her plantation.
It’s not a new thing for companies to try to get people to do things for no pay. I remember when I was working for Universal Studios, they were always trying to get employees to “volunteer” to do things, such as construct a float for the Tournament of Roses Parade. HuffPo has, however, carried this to a new level, because it was built upon unpaid labor, a fact acknowledged by the site’s new owner, AOL:
- In a Forbes magazine article, AOL executives were quoted as saying that AOL CEO Tim Armstrong “talked a lot about the importance of recruiting hordes of free bloggers…. “It was always, ‘Arianna does it. That’s what she’s built her business on. Why don’t we do it, too?’” says a former AOL editor-in-chief.”
This is what makes the HuffPo so poisonous. People see what Huffington has done, and they get the idea that maybe they too can make money by not paying people. This idea becomes like a cancer that spreads.
The Confederacy was abolished over 140 years ago, but the struggle for unpaid labor goes on.