By R. B. STUART
As a contributor for The Huffington Post since 2008, I have posted 25 original content articles valued over $25,000 for free. So eager to have the platform for my soldiers stories, of U. S. soldiers returning from Iraq with Cancer ---I didn't ask for payment---merely handed over the 20 - 30 hours of reporting of each piece for gratis.
Over that period I had asked Arianna Huffington several times for financial support with this work, but after being referred to the D.C. based Huffington Post Investigative Fund as a candidate for payment---I was turned down, as well as by executive editor, Roy Sekoff.
I become incensed to learn that in December The Huffington Post hired away two New York Times editors for well over $100,000 each.
Then to receive an E-mail today from Arianna and Roy about their "Exciting News" of the AOL take over---I was less than enthusiastic. Do they really think 6,000 slave writers will continue to write for free for an international conglomerate like AOL (who pays their web-writers, even if it is meager) without pay?
The deal was made between AOL and Arianna Huffington while they courted her over the weekend at the Super Bowl. Not only did they buy out The Huffington Post for $315 million, but $300 million is in cash.
Essentially, the 6,000 writers Arianna lured with coveted bylines, then exploited their content while the site raked in ad revenue in the millions---has now sold us without our permission, under the guise we'd continue to write for AOL for free---it is presumptuous and arrogant to say the least.
The only way to turn this downward spiral for writers providing original content for the web for meager wages, or in this instance, for not even a slap on the back---is to withdraw. We have grumbled over the years that our craft has lost its value with technical advancement. Web-writing will never compare to print---in respect nor payment---unless we change it. Since the Internet is unregulated when it comes to rights for writers and photographers and collecting fees, then my fellow scribers, this should be a turning point were we no longer write for free. How can one person sell another’s work, without their permission, unless they are slave labor without laws protecting them?
We might not have had rights contributing for The Huffington Post. But it is OUR right now---whether or not to write for free for AOL--- the new owners of The Huffington Post.
This may be an exciting payday for the masthead....but for the thousands of writers that have kept the site in business and lucrative for five years with incentives for advertisers---for AOL to assume it's business as usual without pay---then the executives brokering the deal need to think again. As writing for free for an international corp like AOL---is another beast altogether.
To think the award winning, much admired and regarded Arianna, sold her soul as well as The Grecca ship of slaves---is not only corrupt---but unthinkable. And in my opinion this act of greed and exploitation may be the beginning of her demise.
And I may not be the only contributor to need a glass of water to wash the bitter taste from their mouth....
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