“Thrive” is the title of a new book out by Arianna Huffington, and she talks about the project in an interview with Deirdre Donahue in the April, 2014 issue of AARP Bulletin. The new book focuses on work-life balance and redefining traditional notions of success. Yet Huffington's progressive blog Huffington Post was enormously succesful, at least in part thanks to the work of professional journalists who worked without compensation. She built a business model that doesn't pay freelance contributors.
In 2010, Huffington sold her blog to AOL for $350 milion dollars and took a job as AOL's head of content. National Writers Union and the Newspaper Guild led a boycott of HuffPost at the time. The boycott has ended, but we still want to see a pay scale for online writers (view a panel session we hosted on the topic here). Writers create more than content. We create value and wealth. Just ask Arianna Huffington.
Working without pay should not be the expectation of online publications – or online writers. Quality journalism must be justly compensated. National Writers Union members have started sending off their own letters to AARP. Now we are asking everyone to do the same. Please cut and paste the letter below and send it to: Bulletin@aarp.org. And keep an eye out for the "Thrive" tour coming to your town.
To: Bulletin@aarp.org :
In your April issue of the "AARP Bulletin," Deirdre Donahue interviewed Arianna Huffington about her success and her latest theme, "Thrive." The interview failed to point out that one of the reasons Arianna "thrives" is because she doesn't pay most of the writer/contributors to her flagship huffingtonpost.com. HuffPost became a large progressive blog because of the unpaid contributions of many full-time journalists that brought quality reporting, traffic, and value that allowed her to sell it to AOL for $350 million in 2010. Along with the sale price, Arianna enjoys a $4 million annual salary as AOL's head of content. She shared none of the sale price with the many working writers that created that value. Some might call that "thriving." Others might use another term.