The Newspaper Guild of America, which represents 26,000 media workers across the country, has called for a strike of unpaid writers against The Huffington Post. The Guild is joining the art publication Visual Arts Source, which represents fifty artists and had also called for a boycott several weeks prior. According to the Guild’s website:
[The Guild] is committed to fair compensation for all workers, whether they are freelance bloggers or traditional employees. We are further committed to promoting quality journalism. Working for free does not benefit workers and undermines quality journalism. [ ]
Our intent is to encourage the Huffington Post to do the right thing. We would all love to continue contributing, but only if the terms are fair and promote good, healthy journalism. This is about supporting the quality and integrity of a vehicle for progressive expression, to actually help Huffington Post succeed, but on the right terms. We call on Arianna Huffington to demonstrate her commitment to the working class she so ardently champions in her writing.
In addition to a pay schedule for all Huffington Post contributors, the Guild is also demanding that the site stop posting paid promotional material (“advertorials”) next to other editorial content, saying that the two types of content should be segregated and clearly marked.
But above all, the organization demands that writers stop contributing their work for free until the Huffington Post addresses these concerns: “Just as we would ask writers to stand fast and not cross a physical picket line, we ask that they honor this electronic picket line.”
No news yet on how Arianna Huffington or the rest of the AOL crew will respond to the gauntlet, if at all. At a recent paidContent media conference in New York, Huffington said she found the idea of unpaid bloggers going on strike as ridiculous as celebrities and personalities boycotting self-promotional (unpaid) television appearances. “Go ahead! Go on strike! What does it matter?” she said. “[N]o one really notices!”
UPDATE: The Huffington Post’s response, here.