What’s on the iPod: Hick Town by Jason Aldean
Unless you’ve been unconscious the last few days, you’ve probably heard about the lawsuit filed by angry writers against Arianna Huffington, demanding $105 million in payment from the Huffington Post’s founder. The writers, upset over Ms. Huffington’s deal with AOL to sell the online venue for $315 million, are calling her a “plantation owner” and demanding restitution for what they feel was her using them to increase the value of her commodity. And now they want money.
To that I say good luck. But don’t look for the check any time soon.
The sad fact is these writers agreed to write for free – and in some cases defended their actions when the rest of the writing community, hit them with a lot of “WTF?” style commentary. It was raising their profile! It was a prestigious site that helped them get noticed! They can have their own columns there! They’re getting noticed!
What you ain’t gettin’ is any money, dudes.
The best thing to have done here was to ask for payment before you started working for HuffPo. See, the bargaining power you may have had, the rights you’re so pissed at losing were there at the beginning. Not now. So far after the fact is your outrage that I wonder if the outrage isn’t due to the sheer embarrassment of working for free and being chided for it in public by more discerning writers. And that, dear HuffPo writers, is a choice you made – maybe even gleefully so – without any thought to how rich you were making that site.
And content farm writers, this is your wake-up call. That five bucks you’re so damned proud to earn “without having to market,” as I’ve heard until my eardrums bleed, pales in comparison to the deal your so-called “journalistic clients” (I can’t even type that without wanting to wretch) will someday make, leaving you in an equally cold, lonely place.
And before you argue that at least they’re paying you for your troubles, ask yourself if what they pay you comes anywhere near what an employee at McDonald’s makes for much less work than you have to do to get minimum wage (which is $7.25, not $5). Imagine – you’re making less than minimum wage for an article that any other writer could make $450 or better for. Really? That’s not going to wake you up?
I hope the HuffPo writers do succeed. I hope they set a precedent that warns these scum-churning farms and mills that the current business model could cost them in the long run. Any action that causes one or more of these places to close up shop is a good thing, especially for those modern-day serfs who grind out keywords for crap wages because they think it’s the only gig in town. It’s time writers like that were dropped into the real writing world and learn how to build a respectable business that sustains them, not chains them.
But remember this – these chains were not slapped on any writer without their permission. The choices they made enslaved them. The word “no” never entered into the equation. For that, the blame should be shared.
My words are harsh. My intentions are good. Make better choices now and you’ll not have to sue greedy businesses that wouldn’t pay you in the first place because you weren’t professional enough to ask for what you’re worth. And you are worth more – much more. Now go prove it to them by getting a better gig.
Writers, thoughts on the HuffPo lawsuit?