April 2011, Week 4


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Portside Labor <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Thu, 28 Apr 2011 20:12:39 -0400
text/plain (219 lines)
Portside Supports Electronic Picketline Against Huffington

1. Portside Letter to Ariana Huffington - "Fair play and 
   fair pay for freelance workers"
2. What You Can Do to Support the Electronic Picketline
   (Suggestions from the Portside moderators)
3. Guild tells HuffPost writers: 'Don't work for free'


To:      Ariana Huffinton
Subject: Fair play and fair pay for freelance workers
Date:    April 26, 2011
Cc:      The Newspaper Guild (CWA)

The Huffington Post has become an influential site
largely because it has spoken in the voice of
progressive journalism. Now many of the bloggers who
have been an essential element of that success and the
union that represents them are asking you to not only
talk progressive talk, but to walk the progressive walk.

Huffington Post's unpaid bloggers may not have economic
might on their side, but they certainly have right.
When a journalistic venture transforms from a startup
that makes no money into one that sells for hundreds of
millions of dollars and generates a large stream of
advertising revenue, it should discuss a fair system of
compensation with its writers, including those not on
its regular payroll.

Ariana, we ask that you begin talks with your freelance
writers about a fair pay model. To refuse to do so is a
travesty of progressive principles. New technologies
and new models of journalism certainly require new
models of compensation. Forging such models is critical
to a future of sustainable, quality citizen journalism.
But the model cannot be that the many freelance
writers contribute their work for nothing while a few
owners claim all the revenues. It cannot be that
writers have no collective voice or representation.

Portside (portside.org) supports the Electronic
Picketline of Huffington Post called by Visual Art
Source and The Newspaper Guild/Communication Workers of
America (AFL-CIO). We urge others to do likewise. It is
a call for simple justice.

Portside Moderators


What You Can Do to Support the Electronic Picketline

As long as the virtual picketline is in place, Portside
will not post materials that appear on Huffington Post

* Join in support of The Newspaper Guild (CWA)
* If you are writer, please do not submit material to
Huffington Post, there are many other sources and venues for
* If you are a reader, please do not re-post, forward or
share material from Huffington Post on Facebook or other
social media
* Please contact writers and bloggers whose material
appears on Huffington Post and share this information with
*  Please let Ariana Huffington know that you are taking
this position <[log in to unmask]>
*  Contact the TNG-CWA Freelance Project to let them know
that you support the Electronic Picketline, so that they can
add names to the list of those honoring the digital picket
line.  [TNG-CWA Freelance Project Coordinators: East Coast:
Lauri Lebo, [log in to unmask] or West Coast: Rebecca
Rosen-Lum [log in to unmask]


Guild tells HuffPost writers: 'Don't work for free'

16 Mar 2011

The Newspaper Guild-CWA


The Newspaper Guild is calling on unpaid writers of the
Huffington Post to withhold their work in support of a
strike launched by Visual Art Source in response to the
company's practice of using unpaid labor. In addition, we
are asking that our members and all supporters of fair and
equitable compensation for journalists join us in shining a
light on the unprofessional and unethical practices of this

Just as we would ask writers to stand fast and not cross a
physical picket line, we ask that they honor this electronic
picket line.

The Newspaper Guild, a 26,000-member-strong national union
of media workers, is committed to fair compensation for all
workers, whether they are freelance bloggers or traditional
employees. We are further committed to promoting quality
journalism. Working for free does not benefit workers and
undermines quality journalism.

In response to the Huffington Post's refusal to compensate
its thousands of writers in the wake of its $315 million
merger with AOL, the Newspaper Guild has requested a meeting
with company officials to discuss ways the Huffington Post
might demonstrate its commitment to quality journalism. Thus
far, the request has been ignored.

Visual Art Source, http://visualartsource.com, an art
publication, represents more than 50 writers who have said
they will no longer write for the Huffington Post for free
and who object to a company that depends on unpaid labor for
its success.

As Cherie Turner, one of the former writers, explained,
"Certainly, we all have written for free for the great
exposure the Huffington Post can give us, but what's the
cost? Those of us on strike feel it undermines the value of
our profession and is unethical, especially in light of
great profits by those at the top. We are only asking for a
fair share of what we are helping to create. We are also
speaking out against real journalism being run side-by-side
with advertorial."

We feel it is unethical to expect trained and qualified
professionals to contribute quality content for nothing. It
is unethical to cannibalize the investment of other
organizations that bear the cost of compensation and other
overhead without payment for the usage of their content. It
is extremely unethical to not merely blur but eradicate the
distinction between the independent and informed voice of
news and opinion and the voice of a shill."

The Newspaper Guild and Visual Art Source urge others to
join forces and no longer contribute their labor until the
following demands are met: 

* A pay schedule must be proposed and steps initiated to
implement it for all contributing writers and bloggers; and,

* Paid promotional material must no longer be posted
alongside editorial content; a press release or exhibition
catalogue essay is fundamentally different from editorial
content and must be either segregated and indicated as such,
or not published at all.

Four things you can do NOW, if you choose to join this

* Stop providing free content to Huffington Post and let
your editor know you are choosing to take this action and
what your demands are if he/she would like to keep you
writing for HP (see above);

* Please respond and let us know you're on board and that we
are allowed to use your name in any press materials we send
out regarding this strike;

* Please pass along the names and e-mail addresses of your
colleagues who contribute to the Huffington Post so that we
may ask for their support;

* Send a letter to your local media op-ed section letting
them know how you feel about this situation.

Thank you for your consideration in joining in these
efforts. Our intent is to encourage the Huffington Post to
do the right thing. We would all love to continue
contributing, but only if the terms are fair and promote
good, healthy journalism. This is about supporting the
quality and integrity of a vehicle for progressive
expression, to actually help Huffington Post succeed, but on
the right terms. We call on Arianna Huffington to
demonstrate her commitment to the working class she so
ardently champions in her writing.

For more information see:

Facebook: "Hey Arianna, Can You Spare a Dime?"

TNG-CWA Freelance Project: http://guildfreelancers.org/gf/

TNG-CWA Freelance Project Coordinators:
East Coast: Lauri Lebo <[log in to unmask]>
West Coast: Rebecca Rosen-Lum <[log in to unmask]>


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