The Guardian today reports a group of unpaid bloggers for the Huffington Post, unhappy with the money being made from the $315 million sale of the site to AOL, have filed a $105 million lawsuit for back pay.
According to the Guardian the action is being led by Jonathan Tasini, a writer and trade unionist, quoted as complaining that “people who create content … have to be compensated” for their efforts.
Discussing the action with Journalism.co.uk’s senior reporter Rachel McAthy at #media140 today was Pat Kane, who also blogs on the Huffington Post. Speaking following his keynote speech at the event he said he was “very skeptical” about the action.
I never regarded the Huffington Post space as a commercial space.
I think what’s more interesting is the extent to which the blog community keeps an eye on the Huffington Post and sees that its leveraging its investment in the right way.
Is it becoming an even stronger platform for citizen involvement, for raising voices, for providing an alternative to the mainstream media or is it becoming absorbed by the mainstream media, are there subjects that it just won’t cover now?
So to me the question is more about monitoring them as an enabling enterprise … And the extent to which they fail or trip up on that is the extent to which you don’t participate.
One of the things about the internet is the exodus and not participating is often some of the most effective action that could possibly happen. The sense that something has lost its bloom on the internet … is a real caution to people.
But as I say if one hears stories of the editorial breadth and integrity of the operation being constrained then that’s the point at which I wouldn’t write for it.
I’d rather test it out and practice than actually go down a route that says I’m doing this because I expect a return.
You participate in these things because you want to be part of a community and you want the freedom to express and then you also want to be part of a big conversation you weren’t part of before.
The extent to which you make an earning part of your portfolio is a different question, I’m not as anxious about that.