Former Huffington Post writers and online journalists have launched a new Facebook page, “Hey Ariana, Can You Spare a Dime,” as a tongue in cheek effort—perhaps—to get Ariana Huffington to start paying her writers.
"AOL gave you $315 million: We’re asking you to give a little back to the unpaid writers who built the Huffington Post," the page says.
The initiative was launched by the California Media Workers Guild, and was accompanied by a post on their homepage entitled, “Hey Ariana, Live Up to Your Ideals.” Author Lauri Lebo alleges that Huffington rails against greedy bankers who are destroying the American middle class, while at the same time commodifying the work of journalists, who used to earn a middle class salary practicing their craft.
Huffington, who on Sunday sold the eponymous Huffington Post to Aol for $315 Million—of which $300 Million was cash—built an empire by offering professional writers as well as up-and-comers a high profile outlet for their in exchange for free content. The members of the group believe that with $300 million in the bank, it’s time for the writers to see some.
It’s important to point out that Huffington is not walking away with $100 Million from the sale, but her personal stake is still worth a tidy sum, according to Jeff Bercovici of Forbes.
Conversely, Aol’s content strategy has long relied on paying writers a nominal sum. Relying on stringers who can turn stories around quickly with eyeball-snagging, search -friendly topics, volume of posts made up for low pay.
It should be noted that in the last 18 months I’ve written for two Aol sites, on the spending habits of dictators, for now-defunct Asylum, as well as for Black Voices. While it did take some time for checks to arrive, the work was paid.
With the exception of a select few contributors, the only content creators paid by the Huffington Post are staff writers, which has enabled the site to grow traffic while remaining extremely profitable.
Perhaps it’s a bit naïve to imagine a change in the winning formula after all these years, but it sure would be nice. The thousands of contributors, many of whom are professionals, certainly deserve it.
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