Readers, bloggers sound off on Huff Post sale

By Agence France-Presse
Sunday, February 13, 2011 15:34 EDT
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WASHINGTON — When The Huffington Post was sold to AOL last Monday for $315 million, its founder, Arianna Huffington, was feted as a new media pioneer. Not everyone is celebrating, however.

Huffington has been facing a backlash over the sale — from readers worried about what it will mean for the future of the site and from unpaid bloggers who helped make The Huffington Post such a valuable property.

Arianna Huffington’s blog post on Monday announcing the sale to AOL has attracted more than 7,500 comments as of Friday, many of them bemoaning the purchase of the left-leaning news and opinion site by AOL.

“I am disappointed and expect that HuffPost will be just like any other mainstream media outlet soon enough, with advertisers and the bottom line taking precedence over exposing the truth,” wrote “Euranya.”

“Why did you sell out?” a reader going by “bart4u” asked. “Your readers have made this site too and you made this decision without our feedback. I am going to miss my morning Huffington Post.”

“I don’t think this move bodes well for progressives,” said “cclaker.”

“SCnative” predicted a “slow downhill slide into corporate news mediocrity.”

Others adopted a wait-and-see attitude. A few welcomed the acquisition.

“We will just have to see if HuffPost stays progressive,” wrote “PennsylvaniaHero.” “I would hate to see them lose their identity.”

“On one hand, I want to kick my feet and scream corporate foul because I feel a certain sense of protectiveness towards this site,” said “Twinite.” “On the other hand… I get it! Very savvy move on both their parts.”

A reader going by Andy Gaus raised the issue of compensating bloggers. “Now that the sale has been made, it’s time to pay writers. No excuses,” Gaus said.

The Huffington Post has attracted a strong following — nearly 25 million unique visitors a month — for its lively mix of news, entertainment, opinion and blogs submitted by academics, entertainment figures and politicians.

Aside from the high-profile celebrities, thousands of ordinary writers have also contributed to the site since its launch in 2005, most of them for free.

The freelancers unit of the California Media Workers Guild said it was time for The Huffington Post to start paying these contributors and created a page on Facebook mockingly titled “Hey Arianna, Can You Spare a Dime?”

“AOL gave you $315 million: We’re asking you to give a little back to the unpaid writers who built the Huffington Post,” said the Facebook page, which has nearly 600 fans.

In a blog post on the guild site, Lauri Lebo said the AOL deal “was built on the backs of hard-working writers who never saw a dime for their labor” and urged Huffington to “share some of her profits with the people responsible.”

Jason Linkins, a political reporter at The Huffington Post, jumped into the debate with a blog post entitled “How The Huffington Post Works.”

He said The Huffington Post has many salaried employees like himself producing original content alongside bloggers “who flock to the site for a chance of being heard.”

“We have hundreds of people who want to take something they’ve written and put it in front of potentially millions of people, instead of their Facebook friends or their Twitter followers,” he said.

Media critic Jeff Jarvis agreed that exposure is the currency for many of the unpaid contributors to The Huffington Post — including himself.

“HuffPo brings me links to people and for me, it’s worth it to post there,” Jarvis said on his blog buzzmachine.com. “No one — not even the quite persuasive Arianna — is forcing me. I do it out of my self-interest.”

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  • Anonymous

    This should come as no surprise to those who regularly view HP

    For Ariana, the most important things are: (1) $$ and (2) Ariana.
    . . . but it is true that (1) articles re: fashion and breast implants, and (2) narcissistic, crybaby “relationship articles” are important to HP, too.

    And the censorship policy was … MOODY (nice word). Comments from persons critical of Wimpocrats (Mr O, Hillary Clinton, and — you guessed it — Ariana herself) were permitted as long as they were unreasoning and hysterical (i.e., from the Right) .., any comments from the Left that pointed out that 2 + 2 = 4 were quickly banned.

  • Anonymous

    We can hope that Rawstory will fill the gap that HP only pretended to fill.

  • http://twitter.com/magixarc Mary Geddry

    I tired of HuffPo two, maybe three years ago. I got tired of clicking on a catchy headline with a cool photo only to find out I had already read the story from the source. I wish them luck but there is too much foo foo on Huff Po for my taste – that said they are lightening fast at putting up those catchy headlines and spiffy photos

  • http://smugmug.com/other/anoceanapart Maheanuu

    I saw the shift toward the right over a year ago, many of my rants were deleted as they mocked the Right Wing and the Xtians… I left HP never to return as I saw nothing redeeming in Arianna’s Republicunt missives… Arianna is a money grubber plain and simple, and if you think that she gives a rat’s ass for any of the progressives out there, you need to visit a shrink ASAP.

  • http://www.BaltimoreGreenCurrency.org Shrapnel

    HuffPoo was never left leaning, it was an apologist for the (center right) Democratic party and censored any really radical posters (like me). It was way too popular – basically impossible to read all the comments on a particular blog, so people just repeated what others had already said ad nauseum – there was no real dialogue. If you were one of their approved sources you could get a huge audience, that and the endless fluff and titillation, made it indistinguishable from the mainstream broadcast media. I don’t care what happens to it. Raw Story is loads better – lots of well informed comments, far fewer trolls, and almost all the stories are about stuff that matters. Go Raw.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_C4UKJGJIX3WQOU7P4GZSWVSKBA gnuman

    Sold out.Greed makes the world go around baby.

  • Guest

    Corporate BEE-YUTCH!!!

  • Greg Eckhart

    I assume many of the contributors to HuffPo are being paid already from their lobbyist firms, political parties, PACs and fusion centers?

    HuffPo and even DU were just corporate astro turf to build Dem support around a fluid undecided base meant to marginalize other progressive sites….those tactics got them over 2008 and 2010, but this tactic would be useless if not dangerous, as there is too much resentment by the Progressive base to allow official sanctioned criticism.

    You can only go so far denouncing people that disagree with the ‘other’ Republican party as Naderites and TeaBaggers for ONLY so long. You got actually throw something on the table other than monkey pictures of Bush and excuses for why Dems are maintaining the policies of the guy who looks like a monkey.

    Arianna probably wants to run for office and putting enough distance between HuffPo and herself for 2012 is probably a smart idea. The Progressive schtick has run it’s course and she has always demonstrated that politically she will say and do anything to raise her electoral profile and make money.