When news broke that The Huffington Post was acquired by AOL for a cool $315 million, many HuffPost contributors have their hands out and are asking “How do I get my piece of the pie?” A group of Huffington Post bloggers have grown frustrated that they receive no payment for their writing and have taken their cause to the web with the creation of the “Hey Arianna, Can You Spare a Dime” Facebook group. A post on the group’s wall lays out their mission in rather straightforward terms.
This $315 million buyout by AOL, along with [Arianna Huffington's] $4 million annual salary, was built on the backs of hard-working writers who never saw a dime for their labor. We call on Ms. Huffington to live up to the ideals she so earnestly professes and share her profits with the people responsible for the Huffington Post’s success.
Huffington sent an email to all HuffPost bloggers, past and present, in which she explained how the new AOL-HuffPost model will boost traffic, but will still not compensate writers.
Together, our companies will have a combined base of 117 million unique U.S. visitors a month – and 250 million around the world — so your posts will have an even bigger impact on the national and global conversation. That’s the only real change you’ll notice — more people reading what you wrote.
In an email to New York magazine’s Daily Intel, Huffington Post spokesman Mario Ruiz noted his frustration with the perception that the company’s bloggers are taken advantage of.
Please, enough with the sweatshop and slave ship metaphors — they are ridiculous and offensive. The vast majority of our bloggers understand the value of having a platform that reaches a very large audience. People blog on HuffPost for free for the same reason they go on cable TV shows every night for free — because they are passionate about their ideas, want them to be heard by the largest possible audience, and understand the value that that kind of visibility can bring.
The Facebook group of HuffPost bloggers currently has 336 fans, something tells me it is gonna take much more than that to change the news conglomerate’s pay model.