AOL recently announced their lay-off of thousands of part-time writers that produce content for the Huffington Post. Instead of using the free-lancers, AOL decided to stick with full-time contributors based out of larger, metropolitan areas like New York and Los Angeles.
The move spurred violent emotions across the board from the Newspaper Guildconsisting of thousands of writers who encouraged writers still on-board to strike, due to unfair compensation. The Guild is claiming the strike legitimate because the Huffington Post Media Group, from which the writers were fired, is AOL funded– and therefore has the money to pay all contributors.
As students of media, it is an important key to realize that all HuffPost free-lancers were contributing content based on their own time, and more importantly their own interest. Because of the sheer number of contributors, the HuffPost cut their losses by still giving writers the option to contribute, but on their own dime.
Writers and freelancers can contribute whatever content they want, which means that they usually serve their own agenda. It is within the benefit of the writer, to be published in tandem with the Huffington Post because of their crazy readership numbers and audience base.
Although the move may seem sour for some writers, I think it is a good example to follow and opportunity to follow up on as PR and media students. To get your name out there, to get your company or agenda noticed, sources like the Huffington Post and others can be invaluable to your resume and experience in reaching an intrigued audience.
You may not be paid, but the experience can serve to pay off more than a lousy check for a one-time article. The move by AOL is evident in all new social media– most content is user-generated. YouTube only works because YOU post your videos. Twitter works because you share your daily musings and interests.
In the ever-evolving world of social media, journalism and PR, the most important aspect is to get yourself out there in the best way possible, and that it is still worth it, even for free.
By Gentry Brown
Originally posted on 4/05/2011 via Wordpress