I received this email from Mario Ruiz, attack dog for HuffPo, after my last blog post turned up on his Google Alert.
Matt, can I ask you to pls correct your item about Patricia Chui being fired.
She was never asked to solicit freelancers to blog for free — its now how our group blog works — and it’s part of the reason she was let go. The decision was made by the Editorial Director for Entertainment, Culture, and Lifestyle, John Montorio, who believes its imperative that all Huffington Post Media Group editors are on the same page when it comes to our vision of building a great team of full-time editors, writers, and reporters who are all clear that this vision doesnt include asking freelance writers to become unpaid bloggers, something we have never done and will never do. He also wanted to underline our belief in the Chinese wall between editorial and sales. Our shift from a freelancer model is simply a move toward continuing to build a great in-house edit team. It’s not a diminution whatsoever in the amount being spent on editors and writers. In fact, since the merger, we’ve announced dozens of new hires, and we’re going to be bringing on another 70-80 full time editors and reporters.
My emphasis. Perhaps Patricia Chui was wrong about telling the freelancers they would be asked to blog for free. Mario says that’s not their policy. But they must define “freelance writers” very narrowly, only including people who they have already decided to pay because they certainly do ask freelancers to contribute original work for free. I received this email from The Huffington Post’s Associate Blog Editor on August 11, 2010, a day before I entered Afghanistan.
Hi Ted and Matt –
I read about your fascinating adventures planned for Afghanistan and was wondering if either of you would have interest in posting or cross posting your work as a blog on the Huffington Post. We’d give it very prominent placement and would be happy to link back to your websites, etc. Let me know what you think — I think our readers would be very into the work you all are doing there.
I responded saying that I appreciated the interest and only work for money. She confirmed there would be no pay, only the “link back to your websites, etc.”
Sadly, we don’t have money in the budget for paying our bloggers.
Of course, there is money in the budget for that–they have made a conscious decision not to allot it to blogging. I make my living as a freelancer. Media outlets, especially ones that make millions, must pay me to add content to their publications. I don’t have other sources of income. The Huffington Post asked me to do free work for them to profit on. If that policy has changed since last August, then I’m happy for all their bloggers and glad Mario and the gang made it part of their “vision.” Sadly, I doubt that is the case.
See my recent cartoon on The AOL/HuffPo merger here.
Tags: Huffington Post