“… I’m proud to say that what we do is that we have 13,000 contributors in the UK, bloggers… we don’t pay them, but you know if I was paying someone to write something because I wanted it to get advertising pay, that’s not a real authentic way of presenting copy. So when somebody writes something for us, we know it’s real. We know they want to write it. It’s not been forced or paid for. I think that’s something to be proud of.”
– Stephen Hull, Editor of the Huffington Post, UK
The quote above makes me a little nauseous, especially since I was recently contacted by a recruiter who wanted to know why so many writers only want to write. She was interested in me because I’ve taught myself how to build websites out of sheer desperation. I couldn’t afford to have a professional web developer do it for me, so I did it myself. “What makes writers think writing is so special?” the recruiter wanted to know. “I mean really. Why are they so surprised when employers want them to be able to do things like make and edit videos or know how to use graphic design programs?”
I’m afraid I blew that interview. I not only told her exactly what it takes to be a really good wordsmith, but emphasized how insulted I was that she thought other writers who can only write must be lacking initiative or intelligence. I am still fuming, not just at her but at the way good writing is being devalued by publications like the Huffington Post that assume writers will work for free. How do they expect to get truly professional pieces that have been properly researched, fact checked, edited and focused if writers can’t afford to eat? Making that impossible by not paying writers is systematically destroying something we all desperately need – reliable, articulate, accurate and thoroughly examined pieces that help us explore and reflect on the extremely complex and troubled world we live in.
How about asking Stephen Hull and his staff at the Huffington Post to work for free, just to insure that the Post is not driven by profit and everyone there is truly committed? That’s what I thought. By the way, as Chuck Wendig’s terrific blog post on this subject points out, The Huffington Post is owned by AOL, which is owned by Verizon, a very profitable company that can certainly afford to pay its writers. Don’t miss Chuck’s terrific piece. Here’s the link: http://bit.ly/1UaY4Bl
PAY YOUR WRITERS!
Great Video by Mike Monteiro, co-founder of Mule