March 4, 2011
HuffPo Writer Goes On Strike
by Melville House
Bill Lasarow, publisher and co-editor of Visual Arts Source and former Huffington Post contributor, has gone on strike to protest the site’s practice of not paying for much of the blog’s original content (via Galleycat). Lasarow asks that “all others now contributing free content, particularly original content to the Huffington Post to also join us in this strike,” “form a negotiating partnership with Huffington/AOL,” and “professonialize this relationship.” He calls the payment practices “hypocritical” and urges Ariana Huffington to “do the right thing.” He continues:
It is unethical to expect trained and qualified professionals to contribute quality content for nothing. It is unethical to cannibalize the investment of other organizations who bear the cost of compensation and other overhead without payment for the usage of their content.
We’ve written previously about the new era of “Digital Feudalism” in which “platform barons” take advantage of idealistic content laborers to create companies worth, in HuffPo’s case, $315,000,000. The proliferation of freely generated content on the web has resulted in a race-to-the-bottom economy for people who want to make a living as writers, journalists, photographers, etc. As Lasarow writes, those who provide free content hope to find “fame and fortune thanks to the great exposure” even as their actions help eliminate the very sources of income they aspire to.