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Posts Tagged ‘Jonathan Tasini’

Some Reactions to the Bloggers’ Suit Against HuffPo

Our post yesterday about the news of unpaid bloggers taking the Huffington Post to court inspired some retweets and discussion, including this comment by Nicholas Roberts:

I expect the argument will be “we gave our content in order to build an independently owned, liberal media outlet, with the expectation that the Huff Post would stay that way. When it was sold to perhaps the most mainstream, of the mainstream media i.e. AOL-Time-Warner-CNN media complex, that social contract was broken.” […] The sharecroppers want something more than their “exposure”.

That’s possible, though has the fluff-heavy HuffPo ever come off as all that different from a product of the mainstream media? We’re not talking about Democracy Now or In These Times here.

The Wrap’s Dylan Stableford is also skeptical of the class-action lawsuit filed by Jonathan Tasini, noting that Tasini had a good five years to bring up this issue of bloggers not being paid and that Arianna Huffington has never treated the site’s bloggers as equal to its paid journalists.

That’s the biggest problem, Stableford argues: “It appears Tasini is hoping no one in the Southern District Court of New York has actually reads the Huffington Post — at least enough to recognize the qualitative difference.”

Tasini also told The Washington Post that some bloggers were promised future payment, though he didn’t offer specifics. That’s an intriguing claim, but without some proof it’s hard to know what difference it could make.

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Unpaid HuffPo Bloggers File Class-Action Lawsuit

The Huffington Post’s unpaid bloggers now want a chunk of the site’s $315 million sale to AOL, and today they’re angling for it in the form of a class-action lawsuit.

Led by blogger and union organizer Jonathan Tasini (pictured), the bloggers announced the suit today, Forbes reports. Tasini’s name might sound familiar — as in “New York Times Co. vs. Tasini,” a lawsuit which sought compensation for freelancers whose Times articles had been included in electronic databases. That case was successful.

Tasini’s suit asks for $105 million for the bloggers. Peter Kafka of All Things Digital makes a good point about this effort: How can bloggers who willingly gave HuffPo their work for free now backtrack by claiming that they deserve to be paid?

As someone who makes digital content myself (I’ll let you guys judge its quality and engagement levels) I’m sympathetic to this kind of thinking. But only in a tears-in-beers kind of way, not a file-a-suit-in-federal-court kind of way.

Because I don’t understand where any of this is illegal. Just (arguably) unpleasant.

HuffPo argued that it was compensating its contributors with exposure. That’s always been the deal, and the contributors have already reaped whatever rewards that brings. Beyond that, it’s unclear what they can legitimately claim a stake in. Looks like we’ll find out soon enough.

Photo via Wikipedia: Thomas Good / NLN