LA Times correspondent Tim Rutten predicts that editorial quality and pay for journalists will both fall as a result of the AOL Huffington Post buyout.
Rutten compares the Huffington Post’s business model to a “gallery rowed by slaves and commanded by pirates” where contributors often get paid less than US$50 for their contributions.
The bulk of the site’s content is provided by commentators, who work for nothing other than the opportunity to champion causes or ideas to which they’re devoted. Most of the rest of the content is “aggregated” — which is to say stolen — from the newspapers and television networks that pay journalists to gather and edit the news.
He also points to a memo from AOL CEO Tim Armstrong:
It’s fairly chilling reading, ordering the company’s editors to evaluate all future stories on the basis of “traffic potential, revenue potential, edit quality and turnaround time.” All stories, it stressed, are to be evaluated according to their “profitability consideration”.