US

Newspaper Guild adds firepower to Huffington Post strike

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Steven Nelson
Associate Editor

A strike called by unpaid Huffington Post contributors received a major boost Wednesday with a call to arms released by the national Newspaper Guild.

The industry association called on contributors not currently on strike to cease contributions and asked members to help by “shining a light on the unprofessional and unethical practices of this company.”

The Newspaper Guild boasts 26,000 members and is affiliated with the Communications Workers of America (CWA). The CWA is affiliated with the AFL-CIO.

The strike was called earlier this year by the membership of Visual Art Source, whose 50 members had previously contributed content for free to the site.

“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,” wrote the Guild.

“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,” wrote the Guild. “We call on Arianna Huffington to demonstrate her commitment to the working class she so ardently champions in her writing.”

Mario Ruiz, The Huffington Post’s senior vice president for media relations, responded to the Guild’s statement by providing to The Daily Caller a previous e-mail response to Newspaper Guild President Bernie Lunzer.

Ruiz’s February 20 e-mail addressed a post on the Newspaper Guild’s website titled “Arianna got millions, all we got was a byline.” The post called on Arianna Huffington “to invest in quality journalism by sharing a portion of this fortune with the people who made her successful.” It included a template to e-mail Huffington.

Ruiz wrote to Lunzer, “We feel there’s a critical distinction between our editors and reporters and the people who contribute to our group blog.” Ruiz noted that The Huffington Post had a staff of 143 paid employees. On Thursday, Ruiz told TheDC that the site had hired 17 additional journalists since March 7.

A rebuttal written by Lunzer was published by Jim Romenesko on Poynter. Lunzer responded to Ruiz, “We continue to have great concerns about the HuffPost model and its long-term effect on journalism. I am not at all surprised that you see it as a simple matter.”

Bill Lasarow, the Publisher and Co-Editor of Visual Art Source, told TheDC that the involvement of the Newspaper Guild has brought the strike into a new stage. Lasarow said that his group would not have been best suited to maintain the strike or to conduct negotiations with the company.

“That’s where the Newspaper Guild comes in,” explained Lasarow. “They have an internal structure that’s designed for just this sort of thing. For us to undertake a full negotiation on our own would not be a wise course of action.”

Lasarow said that he had not been contacted by The Huffington Post’s management since announcing the strike, but declined to speculate on why.

The Newspaper Guild has similarly been rebuffed. The Wednesday statement by the Guild reads, “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.”

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  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Edwin-Huertas/100002017817076 Edwin Huertas

    One of their writers (http://www.illuminateme.org/media/why-i-wont-be-joining-the-huffington-post-bloggers-strike.html) will not be joining this strike. People are flaming him, but I think he has a right to not ‘follow the crowd’ and keep his loyal following on THP. At the same time, I understand why everyone is mad.

  • notsilentcal

    how could the world’s champion of little people, foremost fighter for all that’s wrong in the world, singled out & praised by barry his own self for her war against greedy capitalistic big businesses and the evil Republicans, not be paying her own little people! I even heard that ‘spooky dude’ pumped her with a wad to increase the attacks on Glenn Beck!

    oh… she’s a liberal….

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  • riseabove

    I just find this whole thing crazy. I used to write content for advertisers and both parties always set up a contract before a word was written. I wouldn’t dream of volunteering my work only to decide at some later date, should they show a huge profit, that I wanted to be paid.

    These contributors should suffer the consequences of their financial foolishness.

    They must abide by Will Roger’s humorous saying, “If stupidity got us into this mess then why can’t it get us out?”

    • Taxpayer

      Exactly. Those idiots should be slapping themselves.

      When George Lucas first negotiated Star Wars with Twentieth Century Fox, he said he wanted a percentage of revenue from movie memorabilia. The studio bigwigs laughed at him–convinced the film would barely make it–and told him to name a figure (can’t remember what it was). He did, they signed on the dotted line, and Lucas earned zillions on the memorabilia alone.

      I’ll bet my bippy Lucas did that not out of confidence but from pure self-interest. Something these “contributors” should learn.

  • Taxpayer

    Well, freebie-givers, that oughta teach you the First Lesson of Business: There’s no such thing as an implicit contract.

    Epic DUH.

  • erick1740

    WHAT a great buy, a moronic left wing douchebag , idiotic hack so called news site that only idiots read. Now you are going bankrupt, who could have seen that coming?

  • emem

    Huff po having labor trouble. The left eats their own when they don’t get their way! They worked for free, they knew they worked for free…….

    Seriously – this is not news worthy because to my knowledge stupid rarely gets “fixed”.