Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Will Work for Free

Would you work for free to get a byline? If you're like many bloggers 'employed' by The Huffington Post, the answer would apparently be 'yes.'

Publisher Arianna Huffington built an empire worth about $200 million. She has just been awarded a lifetime achievement award from Syracuse University. The distinction is not without controversy, however, as Huffington is being lambasted for her unwillingness to pay content creators.

Read Simon Dumenco's rant on the irony of Huffington's award. It seems that he is not the only one unimpressed by the pro-bono labour model, one that preys on those who want the exposure. Gawker's compiled a handy pie chart on how HuffPo pays its interns. Believe it or not, some interns even pay HuffPo for the privilege of blogging.

From this blogger's perspective, it's a sad state of affairs that gets continually perpetuated because the demand is there. Working for free is volunteering--it should be called out as such. It's fine to have volunteer bloggers and writers, so long as a substantial part of your business model isn't reliant on said free labour.