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AOL Cuts Freelance Writers Over Email

Today AOL sent termination emails (read it below) to writers from its freelance workforce, renewing cries for an AOL-Huffington Post writers’ strike. TechCrunch contributor Paul Carr wrote a provocative response, declaring: “the people calling for Arianna Huffington to pay every one of her 3,000+ contributors are either a) stupid b) disingenuous or c) both.”

AOL owns TechCrunch, but Carr had another reason for defending the cuts–he will be writing for free on The Huffington Post to promote his new book. His essay defended the popular site as a promotional tool. What do you think?

Here’s an excerpt: “An hour or so ago, I joined the great unpaid ranks of Arianna’s content army (I’m keeping my paid gig here at TechCrunch too, obviously). As regular readers might recall, I’m heading to Las Vegas for the month of April (and some of May), where I’ll be staying a single night in each of the hotels on the Vegas Strip. While there, I’ll write a daily diary of the trip for the HuffPost. For free … When I mentioned that I was going to be writing about my adventures in Vegas hotels for the Huffington Post, [my publicist] did the email equivalent of giving me a high-five. When I followed up a few days later saying it was going to be a daily feature, promoted on the front page, I thought she was going to explode with joy. She, or I, literally couldn’t buy that kind of positioning.”

On Monday, journalists took to the streets in San Francisco, protesting labor issues facing all workers. Above, we’ve included a Guild Freelancers photograph from that National Day of Action.

We have obtained a copy of AOL’s note to freelancers: “Thank you very much for your contributions to AOL. As we have discussed on calls and in emails, going forward our editorial direction is to build a great team of full-time editors, writers, and reporters.  To that end, we are reducing the scope of AOL’s freelancer program.
 
“Per the terms of your agreement with AOL, this note confirms the end of your engagement for content services effective Wednesday, April 6, 2011. Rest assured, you will be paid for your content and services through this date, disbursed to you per AOL’s regular payment schedule in late May.
 
“We greatly appreciate your contributions and are available to answer any questions you may have.”

Editor’s note: This post has been updated as the story evolved.

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