Yes, the “e” word: ethics. Arianna Huffington built a media empire on the backs of free labor. Call them volunteers or favors – the Huffington Post is no longer a not-making-a-profit yet venture. With the merger of AOL, it’s a billion dollar corporation with a questionable business model.
This morning she sent out an email to her bloggers announcing the buyout by AOL. In it she said:
The only real change you’ll notice — more people reading what you wrote.
It’s hard to imagine something that sends a more dismissive message. Which is why I’m hoping that Huffington will recognize how this looks and then do the right thing: namely, cut a bunch of checks to a bunch of the most productive contributors on whose work she’s built a significant part of her new fortune.
They’ve earned some of the spoils. I think Huffington is smart enough to know not just the PR value of doing this. And, and feel free to call me naive for saying this, I also think she’s wise enough to know why she should do it on more ethical grounds, too.
Yeah, we’ll call it wealth distribution. She’s a liberal still, right?
What do you guys think? Is it unethical not to pay bloggers after making a nine figure deal from their labor? Or did the bloggers sign away their claim to money after they pressed “publish?”
Hat tip Romenesko