As ever, this post has brewed in my mind for a while now and events today have finally pushed it out into the ether.
Let me explain.
You’ve heard of the Huffington Post? Surely you have – it’s a massive news and opinion site, owned by AOL. It’s essentially a beast of a blog, with hundreds of writers, and thousands of posts. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not a bad site – the content is generally good, but the problem is – Huffington Post, (generally) don’t pay their writers. It’s something Stephen Hull, the editor-in-chief of Huff Po UK is proud of –
“If I was paying someone to write something because I want it to get advertising, that’s not a real authentic way of presenting copy. 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.”
These words fell out of his mouth in February this year (source).
Whilst I get the sentiment, and understand it’s good to be authentic in your writing – people have to earn money for working. It’s not like Huff Po is a charity – it’s a fucking MASSIVE media company, owned by people who have made a living from creating content. I don’t imagine he rocks up at work, happy to do a day’s work just for the authenticity alone.
Many Bloggers aspire to, and some do, write for the Huffington Post – your writing gets massive exposure. This means your reach becomes larger, but financially, at the very core of it all – they make money off your work. I’ve tried, several times to get some of my stuff on there, without success – but reflecting on it now, I’m glad. I’d rather not earn money by throwing my thoughts up here, than let a media giant grow with more content, more advert revenue and greater diversity.
Things came to a head today when I was invited by the Huffington Post to appear in a video interview next week for a section called ‘Thriving Families’. They wanted my thoughts on becoming a father for the first time. It sounded pretty exciting. I became a Dad when I still felt like a child myself – so the impact on me was massive. I quickly found myself musing about the points I could make, and things that I could mention. Then in struck me. It was the Huffington Post asking me for this – they’ll want it all for free.
I was right.
“We don’t have any budget for these videos” – The producer admitted.
I do wonder how they would film, and edit video content on goodwill alone. Apparently, they can! I guess they get “authentic” recording equipment, camera and sound operators and editors for free somewhere.
I wasn’t after a massive fee like some bloggers, heck a bit of travel money to get me and child to London and maybe lunch somewhere would have been fine. Even that was too much of a stretch.
“We don’t really pay for travel, I can ask….” – Her voice trailed off, like it was going to be a hurdle even getting that. I wasn’t asking for a trailer full of prostitutes and some midgets to throw.
I often go to events and blog things under my own steam, and expense because I know I might be able to get some decent content out of it. With this though, they’d be getting decent content out of me, and I’d get – well perhaps a story to tell down the pub?
For a piece about ‘Thriving Families’ it’s a bit funny that they are unwilling to pay parental participants, it’s hard to thrive when working for free.
Here’s a bit of free, authentic writing for you.
Fuck you Huffington Post.