HuffPo Is Proud to Use Slave Labor

PAPERWell golly gee guys, isn’t this great? HuffPo wants you all to know that they are profitable as a company… and they’re PROUD they don’t pay their writers!

HuffPo UK editor Stephen Hull

“I love this question, because I’m proud to say that what we do is that we have 13,000 contributors in the UK, bloggers… we don’t pay them, but you know if I was paying someone to write something because I wanted it to get advertising pay, that’s not a real authentic way of presenting copy. So when somebody writes something for us, we know it’s real. We know they want to write it. It’s not been forced or paid for. I think that’s something to be proud of.”

Oh you know, just a company that makes a profit on words people read that just doesn’t pay the people who write the actual words. AWESOME. MAKES SENSE.

I could rant and rave about how we should all boycott HuffPo, but I know it won’t happen. For me, this is just another part of a disturbing trend in the arts. We don’t value intellectual work; we value the profit we can make off of the intellectual work by presenting it to the public at a carefully packaged price set by an industry that reassures its artists that it’s their privilege to be published at all.

We all expect to have novels and newspapers and magazines and concerts and gallery shows, but we turn our noses down at the artist who makes those things possible. As if giving them some sort of payment for their work cheapens them. Newsflash: it’s you who are cheapening us.

This happens in academia too: if you go for a PHD in the science field, your worth is tied to how much money your research brings into the institution where you work.  So it doesn’t matter if you’re an awesome teacher, kindling the fire of inspiration for a noble subject in the hearts of your students and encouraging the next generation, if you screw up a grant then SEE YA. If you are in the humanities? Forget it.

People who do very tiring, difficult, intellectual work are vital to our development as moral and intelligent creatures, and yet we perpetually and increasingly devalue them since we can’t correlate what they do into a nice, tidy Excel sheet.

When we measure a person’s worth by their ability to produce capital for someone else, we create a terrible system where poor people feel as if they cannot say “no” to bad work. (Or a raw deal.)This of course engenders the scurrilous notion that certain classes of people (like you artists and intellectuals) are not really valuable anyway. It doesn’t take much of an intellectual leap to equate monetary “value” to “human dignity” overall, and I’m afraid HuffPo’s policy is just one part of this destructive and inhumane trend.

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