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Huffington Post 'Slave' Writers in Revolt Over AOL Sale

Arianna Huffington

As a contributor to The Huffington Post since 2008, I have posted 25 original articles that I value at more than $25,000, for free.

So eager to have a platform for my stories about  U. S. soldiers returning from Iraq with Cancer, I didn’t ask for payment; I merely handed over the 20 to 30 hours of reporting on each piece gratis.

Over that period, I had asked Arianna Huffington several times for financial support. But after being referred to the D.C. based Huffington Post Investigative Fund as a candidate for payment, I was turned down by the fund, as well as by Executive Editor Roy Sekoff .
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I become incensed to learn that in December The Huffington Post hired away two New York Times editors for well over $100,000 each.

Then to receive an E-mail  from Arianna and Roy about their “exciting news” of the AOL take over, I was less than enthusiastic.

Do they really think 6,000 slave writers will continue to write for free for an international conglomerate like AOL, which  pays their web writers, even if it is meager?
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AOL made the deal while they courted her over the weekend at the Super Bowl. Not only did they buy out The Huffington Post for $315 million, but $300 million of that amount is in cash.

Essentially, the 6,000 writers Arianna lured with coveted bylines, then exploited while the site raked in ad revenue in the millions of dollars have now been sold without their permission, under the guise that we’ll continue to write for AOL for free.

It is presumptuous and arrogant to say the least.

The only way to respond to this downward spiral for writers who are providing original content  for not even a slap on the back, is to withdraw.

We have grumbled over the years that our craft has lost its value with technical advancement. Web writing will never compare to print—in respect nor payment—unless we change it.

Since the Internet is unregulated when it comes to rights for writers and photographers, then my fellow scribers, this should be a turning point where we no longer write for free.

How can one person sell another’s work, without their permission, unless they are slave labor without laws protecting them?

We might have had no rights contributing to The Huffington Post. But it is OUR decision now whether to write for free for the new owners.

This may be an exciting payday for the masthead, but for the thousands of writers who  have kept the site in business and lucrative for five years, it is another beast all together.

If AOL assumes it’s business as usual without pay for Huffington Post writers, then the executives brokering the deal need to think again.

Arianna not only sold her soul as well as her ship of slaves, but in my opinion, she sowed the seeds of her own demise with this act of greed and exploitation.

And I may not be the only contributor who needs a glass of water to wash the bitter taste of this deal from my mouth.

_______________________________________

R. B. Stuart is a New York author, freelance writer, columnist, poet and photographer. She has written for Glamour magazine, Global Post, The New York Times, Poets & Writers, Distinction magazine, The New York Sun, The Improper, Newsday, Hamptons Online, Long Island magazine, The Independent, Elements magazine and Real Estate New York. She is a contributing writer for The Huffington Post. For more, check out RBStuart.com



  • Pingback: Huffington Bloggers in Revolt at markwollacott.com()

  • Just wanted to chime in that I completely understand your desire to find an outlet to report an issue, and understand that your estimated value of 25k is not what you were actually asking Huff Post for, but used to explain your disgust at the sale of the site while the writers responsible for the content, are getting nothing. In the past, I have been in agreement and suport of Adrianna Huffington in many arenas, but I do have to say, her writers created her site. She should contemplate that as she is collecting her millions. And AOL may find they don’t receive such enthusiastic support and donations (of journalism) after their takeover.

    • R. B. Stuart

      Dear Jennifer,

      Thank you for writing, and it is much apprieciated that you’re the first to “get me.” And to reiterate, I was not asking for $25,000 in 2009….simply ANY funding to continue my series. To be refused on the grounds that they did not have the money, and then are bought for $315 million—-now they have it and assume we’ll continue for free—-makes me see that we / I have been exploited all along.

      My mission to spread the word of cancer in soldiers post-deployment was a sincere one—thiers was simply looking for original content for free. My work, no matter the subject—was not worthy enough to them for even $50, $100 or $200 an article. So yes, the 25 features for $25,000 / $1,000 a piece for a 2,000 word story would have been what I may have been paid by a mid size publication who pays .50 cents a word.

      To make such a vast amount of money off of my free labor, as well as 5,999 others— was the catalyst for my putting a monetary value on my articles.

      Yours —R. B.

  • Pingback: Arianna Has a Revolt on Her Hands @ HuffPo « Just Americans Making Ethical Statements Weblog()

  • You give your services to the greater good. Communism is wonderful!

    • R. B. Stuart

      Dear Communist,

      Thank you for writing. I gave my soldiers stories to the Huff. Post for the greater good of the cancer stricken soldiers who have returned from Iraq to a country that is clueless about thier diagnosis…..and a military whose stance is “cancer is NOT a war wound.” So these soldiers are dying in silence….

      It is my mission to give them a voice.

      Thank you
      Yours —R. B.

  • Robbins Mitchell

    Well,it serves you right for trusting an unprincipled alien whore who married a queer for his money…maybe she’ll let you lick the cheese out of her panties as a going away present….chump

    • R. B. Stuart

      Dear Robbins Mitchell,

      Thank you for writing. At the time I didn’t have disdain for Arianna….only after I felt as if we, the writers, were exploited for her own gain did I become angered. I don’t think it has as much to do with the fact she’s an immigrant….than greedy.

      Yours —R. B.

  • mike

    That’s why they refer to guys like you as “useful idiots”

    • R. B. Stuart

      Dear Mike,

      Thank you for writing. At the time I didn’t think I was an idiot, as my intention was to get wider exposure for soldiers with cancer.

      Yours —R. B.

  • JimRed

    Isn’t the opportunity to work for the Progressive/Marxist/socialist/liberal cause reward enough, Comrade?

    • R. B. Stuart

      Dear Jim Red,

      Thank you for writing. Since 2008 the byline in the Huff Post helped me enter other publishing arena.s. But at some point the influentcial byline wears off when you’re cashing in change at the local coinstar for food money—then hear about NYT editors being wooed away for hundreds of thousands a year. At some point it sinks in you’ve been played…and they only pretended to cry broke.

      Yours —R. B.

  • Alexandria Dumas

    Ain’t socialism grand? You, my friend, are what is commonly called, “a useless idiot,” no offense intended.

    • R. B. Stuart

      Dear Alexandria Dumass,

      Thank you for writing. I’d like to think of myself, and the work, as a cog in a wheel that was moving important information into pockets of the public that were uninformed.

      Yours —R. B.

  • Aetius

    And that’s why you are refered to as “Useful Idiots”

    • R. B. Stuart

      Dear Aetius,

      Thank you for writing and for reiterating anothers comment. I look at my work as being useful to the many cancer stricken soldiers I interviewed for the Huff Post—in hopes to get them and their plight the attention they so deserve.

      Yours —R. B.

  • Matt Bors

    Don’t claim you value your articles at $25,000 if you are willing to work for free. You are not a slave—you willfully worked for her without compensation and now you feel salty.

    I’ve been contacted by the site to post my cartoons and refused because I had a choice.

    You think this is the moment where you should stop writing for free? You shouldn’t have started int the first place. But I’m glad you came around.

    • R. B. Stuart

      Dear Matt Bors,

      Thank you for writing. My aim was to gain wider exposure on the topic of soldiers returning from Iraq with cancer. And after pitching every national publication for two years, only to be encounter a media black-out on the topic—did I decide to query Huff Post. When they invited me, I was happy to atleast have a platform to get the work out. But as time wore on and the endless hours mounted….the value of being paid for such exclusive work began to gnaw at me.

      After several attempts in 2009 to get financial support from them and was told “they didn’t have the money,” did it not sit well with me. And her selling to AOL twisted the knife even further.

      As anyone doing pro-bono work knows the value of what they are providing….I calculated what I should have been paid in a perfect world.

      Yours —R. B.

  • Mysteryuz

    Why would you write for free on someone else’s site? Airanna made a smart business move. She was able to get guest writers to help make her site a hit. No one was forced into writing for her, they could have easily said ‘no’ and moved on. Griping about it now while using the site to boost their writing credits just seems silly (and bitter).

    • R. B. Stuart

      Dear Mystery Uz,

      Thank you for writing. I’m uncertain if you read the first paragraph to the post….but I began writing for them to gain exposure for soldiers returning from Iraq with cancer—that the mainstream media has been ignoring since my discovery in 2006.

      So it was the platform I needed for the voiceless men and women laying with cancer in hospital beds that the public is clueless about.

      I only became bitter when I relized Arianna’s stance of “we don’t have money to pay” was all a con.

      Yours —R. B.



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