Thursday, February 10, 2011

HuffPost Runs a Bitter Defense

Huffington Post reporter Jason Linkins wrote an article on Thursday defending the website's highly contested business model. He starts off sounding a bit hostile:

"In the wake of the AOL acquisition, I've been reading a lot about The Huffington Post from a lot of people who, as outsiders, don't really have any idea about what we do, here. They nevertheless have all sorts of opinions.

...Being a paid employee comes with many expectations and responsibilities. Let's run some of them down, shall we? First of all, there's this expectation that on a daily basis, you will show up and do work. In an office and everything! There you are subject to things like deadlines -- you actually have to produce writing on a regular basis. You receive assignments, from editors, that you are expected to fulfill in a timely fashion... Those are the sorts of responsibilities, that, when they are fulfilled, entitle one to a "salary." ... You are, theoretically, on call, 24-7, to get the work done."

He goes on like this for a while, excessive comma usage included. Eventually he gets to the point:

"All of the above -- the original content that drives the entire business and the aggregation that sends readers out into the world of news and information -- helps to build an architecture that enables thousands of other people to have a space to come and write and play and inform and start conversations. Those people are the Huffington Post bloggers -- who flock to the site for a chance of being heard. There are many people who believe the original reporting and content aggregation is done on the backs of these bloggers. In reality, the opposite is true -- their opportunities only exist in tandem with the work of people like me."

Linkins leaves some unconvinced of the viability of a volunteer system, although it's hard to argue with a count of roughly 6,000 faithful, "free" bloggers.

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