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The New York Times on Why It Still Pays Writers Who Would Write for Free

In light of the current lawsuit by unpaid bloggers against AOL-Huffington Post, HuffPo defenders have made the argument that people knowingly, willingly wrote for the digital news outlet for free, to get broad exposure for their writing, which was worth more than money.

Well, many people would be more than happy to have an op-ed featured in The New York Times even sans payment. We would! But the Times op-ed page pays writers — with some exceptions. “Public figures, politicians and the like, get nothing,” a Times spokeswoman said, as Jeff Bercovici at Forbes reports.

So why does the Times pay, and Huffington Post does not?

It’s a matter of principle, said Andy Rosenthal, the Times’ editorial page editor. “The basic concept is that we think writers should be paid for their work.”

Agreed! But it’s a bit more complicated than that, as the Times only publishes a few op-ed pieces a day. Even if Huffington Post adopted the principle that it’s a good use of money to pay writers, paying every single HuffPo blogger would add up costs for the outlet very quickly. But it’s certainly something to aspire to.

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