Huffington Post contributors aim to expand strike as their concerns are dismissed by company

Steven Nelson Associate Editor
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Contributors on strike from the Huffington Post are expanding their effort as an immediate resolution remains unlikely.

Bill Lasarow, the publisher and co-editor of Visual Art Source, told The Daily Caller in a phone interview that his organization is standing firm with its demands that the site reform its pay and content structures.

Participation in the strike has expanded beyond the membership of Visual Art Source, Lasarow told TheDC. He said that many other Huffington Post bloggers and contributors have joined.

Strike participants are demanding that the Huffington Post implement a system to pay contributors for their content, and for the site to differentiate between paid promotional content and the work of contributors.

Lasarow also said that “there was an interest expressed by some of the writers in developing an outreach campaign” to further broaden participation.

The Huffington Post has not reached out to the contributors who are on strike, Lasarow told TheDC.

“There are a number of staff people, including Arianna Huffington, who we have provided with a copy of the original strike statement,” Lasarow said.

Huffington’s awareness of the strike was confirmed by her statement at a conference Thursday when she said, “Go ahead, go on strike.” She also criticized “the idea of going on strike when no one really notices.”

Lasarow said that the comments show that Huffington, a progressive commentator who built the Huffington Post into one of the internet’s most visited websites with the assistance of unpaid contributors, “is a hypocrite.”

Asked about reports that the Huffington Post was engaging in censorship by removing posts about the strike, Lasarow confirmed that his organization had its strike notice deleted.

“The only thing I know is that we did send in a posting of the strike notice,” he said. The post was, according to Lasarow, “immediately removed.”

Mario Ruiz, the Huffington Post’s senior vice president for Media Relations, wrote in an e-mail to TheDC, “HuffPost has 148 editors, writers, and reporters on our edit team. While we pay our editors, writers, and reporters, we don’t pay for the opinion pieces submitted by our thousands of bloggers. With the exception of .0001 percent, contributors to our group blog are happy to access the platform and the huge audience it brings.”

Ruiz did not indicate any intention by the Huffington Post to consider the demands made by Lasarow and other contributors on strike. Instead, Ruiz stated a frequently-invoked defense of the system of not paying bloggers and contributors.

“People blog on HuffPost for free for the same reason they go on cable TV shows every night for free – because they are passionate about their ideas, want them to be heard by the largest possible audience, and understand the value that that kind of visibility can bring,” Ruiz said.

“Our bloggers can choose to write for HuffPost – or not write for HuffPost,” Ruiz said. “They can write as often as like they like or as little as they like. As I said, vast majority of our bloggers are thrilled to blog for us – and we’re thrilled to have them. The proof is in the pudding: people are looking to join the party, not go home early!”

Lasarow expressed confidence about the chances of the strike achieving its goals, but said that his group had already realized a measure of success.

“We’ve already been successful, we have stood on principle,” said Lasarow. “We have already succeeded in stating our principle. It seems to have been well understood publicly.”

“Whether we enter into any agreement remains to be seen,” he added.