The Huffington Post, founded in 2005, has become somewhat of a progressive form of journalism. Founded by Arianna Huffington, this online publication aggregates its news for readers, while journalists who report for free, provide original content to the site. In return, the journalists might hope to gain exposure from having their name associated with published material posted there.
This shaky business model has lasted and worked well for the past six years. Somehow the site managed to keep its writers coming back for free. Making the business highly lucrative for Arianna. That model is potentially facing its downfall.
Recently, Arianna Huffington merged her company with AOL, a deal which is approximately worth $315 million. Visual Art Source, who has added content freely to the Huffington Post, is going on strike indefinitely after this multi-million dollar deal.
An editorial on Visual Art Source’s website asks other unpaid contributors to do the same, writing, “It is unethical to expect trained and qualified professionals to contribute quality content for nothing. It is extremely unethical to not merely blur but eradicate the distinction between the independent and informed voice of news and opinion and the voice of a shill.” Later on in the editorial, Visual Art Source goes on to say that, “None of this is illegal, only unethical and oh so very hypocritical.”
Whether or not other non-paid contributors decide to follow suit, remains to be unseen. It’s something to keep an eye on though. This might be the end of this “progressive” type of journalism.