Should Bloggers Get Paid?

Posted by Laura Jordan

It’s no secret that journalists aren’t exactly rolling in the dough – but did you know that they make 42 percent less than the national average for all jobs? Add in the long hours researching and writing (not to mention rewriting!), and journalists do a lot of work for very little – especially online.

Image courtesy of stock.xchng

The internet is awesome. You can’t deny that. But it’s also a bit problematic. There are copyright problems, censorship issues, and now payment disputes. Yesterday, a group of bloggers filed a lawsuit against the Huffington Post and AOL (which took over the Post in February). The goal of the lawsuit? Precedent for bloggers to get paid for their work.

The union activist and former Huffington Post blogger leading the action, Jonathan Tasini has been speaking out against the Post since the AOL takeover. Now, he is calling Huffington a slavedriver. “The Huffington Post’s bloggers have essentially been turned into modern-day slaves on Arianna Huffington’s plantation,” Tasini said yesterday in a telephone press conference.

Tasini’s comments about Huffington are harsh – but does he have a point? Do journalists have a right to any value that comes from their blogs? Does this have any relation to the 2007-8 Writers Guild Strike? What does this lawsuit mean for the future of journalism, and the internet?

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5 responses to “Should Bloggers Get Paid?

  1. I can respect where the journalists’ opinions are coming from in this case, however, at the same time (and please correct me if I’m wrong), but no one is really forcing them to keep blogging for the site, correct?

  2. Kelly Hendricks

    I was thinking exactly what Annika was thinking. If the bloggers are writing their opinions by choice they cannot really complain. They can stop at any point if they are doing it for their own free-will and not as part of a job. I would think differently if they were being forced to blog though.

  3. The bloggers are all volunteers – they knew they wouldn’t be getting paid when they signed up. But I think that the complaints come from the fact that AOL paid Huffington a pretty big sum for the content (including the blogs by Tasini and others), but nothing to the writers that did the work.
    I think it just goes to show that freelance contracts are so very important. They lay out the rules for everyone, and prevent lawsuits like this.

  4. I’m going to agree with Kelly and Annika on this one. No one is forcing these bloggers to perform their work. It is a choice. If they know going into the site that they will not be paid for the content, then they have no right to complain.

  5. I agree that these bloggers shouldn’t be demanding payment. They were volunteers and knew that going in. I don’t really see them having any sort of legal argument against HuffPost.

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