In How The Huffington Post Can Pay Its Bloggers, HuffPo blogger Michelle Haimoff seems to have gotten a tad miffed at how Arianna Huffington is making millions on the backs of her bloggers without “paying it forward,” as it were. Consequently, Haimoff has developed a prototype scheme on how Arianna can pay her long toiling bloggers to help fulfill her “responsibility” to journalism.
I think that Haimoff, however, misses the point of the Huffington Post. It isn’t now and never was about “journalism.” It’s about left-wing advocacy and advertising sales. Journalists need not apply. As we discussed early in July, journalism isn’t what HuffPo does.
Starting off by paying her un-mindful patron some undue flattery, she says that Huffington “exudes a kind of warmth and authenticity that is rare for people at her level in the media world,” Haimoff moves to harp on that “responsibility” she imagines that Huffington owes the Internet.
Additionally, and perhaps less capitalistically, The Huffington Post has a responsibility as a new media pioneer to set a payment precedent that values content providers. Perhaps Arianna's only concern is the bottom line, but considering that she is a woman who has been a politician, an author and a radio personality, it would seem that she isn't just in it for the money. She comes across as the type who would welcome the opportunity to shape the future of media in a way that takes into account both profitability and fairness.
I am curious where Haimoff has seen this selfless Huffington of which she writes? What in Arianna’s history might suggest that Arianna isn’t Arianna’s only concern? And when was Arianna ever interested in “authenticity”? She’s taken every side of every question since her assumed conservative debut to her eventual left-wing make over. It’s not been about intellectual honesty or authenticity for Arianna Huffington, it’s been about media exposure built on a series of constant look-at-me moments.
Then there is a bit of criticism on where HuffPo is headed from the pecuniary expectant Haimoff, too. Here, a true liberal, Haimoff goes for the jugular of “the rich.”
Yet as brilliant of a strategy as hiring legions of unpaid writers is, there is a catch. Eventually and, some would argue, already, the only writers that will write for free are writers that can afford to write for free. The voices of the passionate amateurs that The Huffington Post showcases are becoming increasingly homogenous and, in the long-term, a blog dominated by rich people and celebrities will alienate readers that aren't a part of this demographic.
Haimoff then goes on to relate her somewhat complicated remuneration scheme. She even returns to her slight-the-rich meme by suggesting that “rich writers” can forgo their payments and “pay it forward” to the struggling class, presumably those like herself. Though, one wonders how “the rich” can remain “the rich” by refusing payment for their work?
In any case, it all makes me wonder how many HuffPo bloggers are realizing that “the exposure” does them no real good at all if there isn’t any actual, real reward in it for them? Further, how many are becoming irked that Arianna Huffington is pulling in millions of dollars in investment cash and advertising fees made on the backs of the thousands of those bloggers that toil for free on a daily basis? It’s more of that selfless Arianna that Haimoff praises so, I guess.
Haimoff didn’t say it, but the whole thought experiment gives rise to a question: Just what IS a HuffPo post worth, anyway?