They aren’t all straight lines to productivity, like Bill Gates’ “go paperless,” Warren Buffet’s “say no,” or Winston Churchill’s “take a break away from your desk.” They also include some really good life tips like Richard Branson’s “don’t forget to work out,” Arianna Huffington’s “get enough sleep,” or –one of my favorites — Mark Cuban’s “avoid meetings.”
As blogger, former full-time journalist, and long-term entrepreneur, I’m offended from all three sides by journalists complaining that bloggers don’t get paid on the Huffington Post.
I’m offended by the envy. The money Arianna Huffington and her investors made on the sale of Huffington Post to AOL was classic entrepreneurship, earned by taking risks. They risked their time, money, health, and reputations. They established a business, hired people, rented offices, bought computers, bought server space, and all that. So when they make something happen, they deserve the dollars.
I’m also offended by the distortion. Huffington Post does have journalists on staff, and they get paid as journalists. If you don’t get it, you should probably read this explanation from one of them. And Huffington Post also publishes posts from thousands of bloggers, me included, who post there voluntarily, as self expression, mostly opinion, with no expectation of being paid for it. They want an audience. The distortion on the poster (in the illustration here) makes me angry. “You can’t eat prestige” is pure sensationalism, complete distortion.
Is Twitter exploiting people who tweet? Is Facebook exploiting its users?
The house painter gets paid. The landscape painter doesn’t.
The passport photographer gets paid. The news photographer gets paid. The art photographer doesn’t.
The journalist gets paid. The reporter gets paid. The investigative journalist gets paid. The author of the letter to the editor doesn’t.
Some bloggers are journalists, and should be paid. Reporters for Mashable, Engadget, TechCrunch and Read/Write Web, to cite some well-known examples, are journalists, and they get paid. Guest posters aren’t journalists usually, and they don’t usually get paid.
Summary: entrepreneurship is big risk, and big money if you make something that succeeds. Journalism is work and there is expectation of pay. Some blogging is work with expectation of pay, and some is self expression, which is its own reward.
(Disclosure: I blog on the Huffington Post and my son is CTO. I was also a member of the Newspaper Guild as a professional journalist, on salary with United Press International, a correspondent for McGraw-Hill World News, and a freelancer.)
I’ve been watching the rise of the Huffington Post for several years now — (and here’s where it’s personal) since my daughter started as CTO about three years ago — and what a ride.
Many big wins seem simple after the fact. Few are, and this one no more than any. It might seem obvious now but when they started in 2005, it was a matter of huge risks and a million ways to go wrong. They’ve been working like mad, paying attention to every detail, leading a new media world step by step, but with a lot of ups and downs. When you look back at it now, they changed blogging and journalism both.
Congratulations to Arianna Huffington, Ken Lerer, Jonah Paretti, Eric Hippeau, and so many others who played a part in it. And of course to my daughter Andrea Breanna, too — but she doesn’t need a blog post to know how I feel.