Here’s Jong on the refusal of Arianna Huffington to pay writers for contributing to her blog sites:
“The idea that everybody’s writing for free is hurting writing as a profession. I wrote many articles for Arianna when she was establishing her aggregator blog and attracting all those eyeballs.
When she got $300m from the AOL acquisition, I said, ‘OK, Arianna, we all helped you get there so now you’re going to pay writers.’ She said, ‘No, I pay my editors.’ I’ve known Arianna for years…
I knew her when she was anti-feminist. I knew her when she was right wing. I knew her when she turned left wing. We promoted our first books together in the UK a million years ago… I admire her energy. She can be very interesting and she’s very clever.
But ‘there is a special place in hell for women who don’t help other women,’ as Madeleine Albright once said. Artists who turncoat and exploit other artists — I have no words.
Arianna ditched the writers soon enough. That hurts… Now authors are blogging everywhere for free, and it’s not a good development. They are starving.
I care about artists — the oxygen of society. Suppress them and you asphyxiate discussion and change. Arianna was a writer once… She forgot her origins… We need to be paid! We cannot barter poems for food.”
Jong is a fan of Tina Brown, who runs the Daily Beast, but that doesn’t inhibit her from being critical too:
“When Tina was editor [at The New Yorker] she made all the stories shorter. As an editor, it seems she gets nervous and makes an article shorter and shorter and shorter because I suspect she’s afraid that people don’t have the attention span they used to have.
But I understand that different things should be of different lengths. And Tina is a good editor in this regard: she knows immediately which writer to put with which story.
She once sent me to interview Jane Campion, the film director. Very smart. Tina’s brilliant at a lot of things. And a good writer.
The Daily Beast’s ‘Women in the world’ is a terrific idea. A lot of things she does are necessary. I wrote for her at Talk. I still write for her though the contracts they send you make you weep for writers.”
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