Arianna Huffington: Journalistic Sellout, or Entrepreneur?

BY BRANDON DOYLE

As John Tozzi would say, Arianna Huffington is bringing in the big bucks.  In February of 2011, Huffington announced she would be selling her website, the Huffington Post, to internet mogul America Online.  In a 2007 article written by Paul Harris for The Guardian, many journalists are slamming Huffington with negative feedback, claiming she is a political sellout that made $315 million at bloggers’ expense.

Initially, content found on the Huffington Post’s website were contributing articles from bloggers around the world.  The bloggers contributed to Huffington Post for no pay.  Instead, Huffington offered contributing bloggers exposure and recognition in exchange for financial compensation.  “Arianna not only sold her soul as well as her ship of slaves, but sowed the seeds of her demise with this act of greed and exploitation,” wrote RB Stuart, a former contributing blogger who estimated her writing for the Huffington Post to be worth approximately $25,000.

But amidst all the negative feedback, we must take a step back and look at Huffington as an entrepreneur.  Like so many bloggers today, Huffington started her website for the same reasons as many others: to report news and make money.  So why are bloggers mad?  Huffington executed that business model perfectly.  As far as bloggers claiming Huffington took advantage of her lack of pay for articles, contributing bloggers agreed to Huffington’s terms and continued to submit articles.  If they were so mad they did not receive payment for their articles after Huffington’s sale to AOL, then in my opinion, they should have been fighting to be payed before the sale.

Bloggers need to follow the business model of a crack dealer: give them a little for free, addict them, then charge for their product.  If their writing and viewpoints are strong enough, the author’s audience and publishers will want more, and then bloggers should charge for content.  In the case of the Huffington Post, bloggers were naive.  I guess they (we) have learned our lesson.

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