Who's Afraid of Arianna Huffington?
Syracuse University's journalism school will next week honor Arianna Huffington, and already alarm bells are going off inside traditional media: Why honor a woman who doesn't pay most of her writers, undermining the school's own graduates?
Ad Age's Simon Dumenco is shuddering:
Really, the school — which exists to train journalists — should know better than to honor a woman who thinks journalists should work for free!
...Now please excuse me as I crawl under my desk and curl into the fetal position.
It's true that there's something awkward about Huffington's award; we said so last month.
But if it's Huffington's volunteer model that makes you feel queasy, it's time to get over the feeling, because the internet mogul is hardly alone in exploiting unpaid contributors. Just this morning, the New York Times' David Carr wrote about a group of laid-off New Jersey journalists whose independent website, it turns out, earns enough to pay them all of $42 per week.
And the Times itself is experimenting with citizen journalism, on its Brooklyn blog "The Local." In fact, newspapers across the country have been tinkering with unpaid online contributors for years now.
If you're going to cower in fear of Huffington, it should be because you have to work for her. It's far too late to fret over her successful — and widely copied — business model.