Queen Arianna’s Reign of Error

The Queen of All Media on her throne.

When Howard Stern, the self-proclaimed King of All Media, took his dirty mind and love of lesbians, dwarfs and bigots with him when he abandoned terrestrial radio for satellite and millions of dollars I was among the masses of loyal listeners he left behind.

For  years I had woken up in the morning to listen to, get a laugh from and more than a few times get pissed off at Howard’s show.  I recognized the smutty and sophomoric nature of the program, but at least it wasn’t boring.  I vividly recall Howard and his sidekick Robin Quivers trying to make sense of what was happening on the morning of September 11, 2001and trying hard not to give into the panic.

Now that Howard has gone his way and I have gone mine, I’ve pretty much forgotten he exists.  I was flipping channels the other night and there he was yakking it up with that horribly boring Piers Morgan on CNN.  What I was struck by in the few moments I lingered before clicking away was how much Howard sounded and looked the same as he did when he signed off in 2005 and how little I cared any more.

The point is (and I do have one) is no matter how much you enjoy something, the time eventually comes when you leave it behind or it changes in such a way you leave it behind.  We form a relationship, a bond with our favorite musicians, authors, sports figures, TV shows and magazines.   When they change so drastically we no longer know what it was we liked about them in the first place we either live with the change or we move on.

That’s where I’m at with Arianna Huffington and her publication, The Huffington Post.  When I learned the repellent Andrew Breitbart, the far-right propagandist, character assassin and racist manipulator of the Shirley Sherrod incident was joining the supposedly “progressive” Huffington Post as a contributor, that was when it was time to say, “check, please.”  Any publication that wants to associate itself with a maggot like Breitbart is not a publication I want anything to do with.

I closed my account with The Huffington Post and deleted the site from my browser’s bookmarks.  I won’t hotlink to any more stories on the HuffPo and will do my best to ignore the site as much as humanly possible.  There are plenty of other sites that do politics, entertainment and news a lot better and doesn’t fuck over its writers in the process.

These days there are more sites that look like The Huffington Post than the New York Times.  Founded just six years ago, the HuffPo has created the template for a successful news site:  aggregate (or “borrow”) your content from other publications, don’t pay your contributors but assure them thousands of readers are eagerly devouring your writing and endlessly promote yourself as a liberal lion as you sit down with the other heavy hitters on the Sunday talk shows.

And it worked.  The downside is it’s a model built upon the sweat and toil of others and the final product treats empty entertainment the same as important news.

Arianna Huffington is not a liberal.

She’s an opportunist who will lie down even with sleazy race-baiting bastards like Andrew Breitbart.

Birds of a feather crap on journalism together

Actions (and acquisitions) have consequences.

Queen Arianna maximizing her opportunities has already had immediate and dire consequences. As part of AOL’s acquisition of The Huffington Post, 200 staffers from their sites such as Politics Daily and Daily Finance saw their jobs terminate

“There was no contact at all from whomever was making decisions,” said one AOL editorial insider who was let go. “Not a single person on our team was interviewed, and they didn’t even ask for resumes. It’s really a big mess.”

The layoffs include PoliticsDaily‘s editor-in-chief Melinda Henneberger, a veteran political journalist who spent 10 years at The New York Times, according to FishbowlDC.

“I have just laid off dozens of the most talented journalists & product folks I know,” Jonathan Dube, AOL’s senior vice president of news, tweeted around noon. “Need talent? Let me know!”

Even for those who remain, the future is uncertain. “Everything I support appears to be disappearing,” said one AOL tech staffer who survived the cuts. “They gutted the place.”

In addition to the 200 stateside job cuts, 700 workers in India are being let go.

Oh well, I’m sure they will be able to get jobs writing for The HuffPo for free. All they have to do is find another way to buy food, pay bills and afford the electricity for their laptops.

Will I miss the HuffPo?   As far as grabbing some fast food “infrotainment” when I want some quick and not too deep, sure I will.   But the HuffPo was never any good for in-depth investigative journalism and well-written commentary.   That was always something I had to go elsewhere in search of.  There’s no shortage of choices to go to for my information.   Huffington’s plantation is not required reading.

It all comes down to this.  I don’t need any more of Arianna Huffington’s bullshit.

Arianna Huffington’s Liberal Hypocrisy

Arianna Huffington: liberal, wealthy, greedy.

Being a freelance writer is not always sweetness and light.  In fact, sometimes it’s tedious and discouraging.   While the internet now means a writer who hustles can now reach hundreds, if not thousands of possible outlets for their work, one of the worst things about the open marketplaces is the surge in publications that don’t pay contributors.    One of the leaders in this unhappy trend is The Huffington Post, the prodigy of conservative-turned-liberal, Arianna Huffington.

You can’t be a good little liberal without regular visits to the Huffington Post, the wildly successful left-leaning site which was recently sold to AOL for $315 million. Fans of the HuffPo are wondering what the sale will mean to the site’s content.

Huffington sent an e-mail to the site’s contributors and bloggers that read in part:

Together, our companies will have a combined base of 117 million unique U.S. visitors a month — and 250 million around the world — so your posts will have an even bigger impact on the national and global conversation. That’s the only real change you’ll notice — more people reading what you wrote.

What you wrote for nothing that is, because despite the millions of dollars changing hands, one thing that won’t change is the HuffPo’s policy of not paying freelancers as Tim Rutten wrote in the L.A. Times:

Whatever the ultimate impact of AOL‘s $315-million acquisition of the Huffington Post on the new-media landscape, it’s already clear that the merger will push more journalists more deeply into the tragically expanding low-wage sector of our increasingly brutal economy.

The other partner to this dubious arrangement is the Huffington Post, which is a new-media marvel of ingenuity, combining a mastery of editing geared to game the search engines that stimulate Web traffic and overhead that would shame an antebellum plantation. The bulk of the site’s content is provided by commentators, who work for nothing other than the opportunity to champion causes or ideas to which they’re devoted. Most of the rest of the content is “aggregated” — which is to say stolen — from the newspapers and television networks that pay journalists to gather and edit the news.

The Huffington Post is a brilliantly packaged product with a particular flair for addressing the cultural and entertainment tastes of its overwhelmingly liberal audience. To grasp its business model, though, you need to picture a galley rowed by slaves and commanded by pirates. Given the fact that its founder, Huffington, reportedly will walk away from this acquisition with a personal profit of as much as $100 million, it makes all the Post’s raging against Wall Street plutocrats, crony capitalism and the Bush and Obama administrations’ insensitivities to the middle class and the unemployed a bit much.

I started out in 1992 writing for alternative and Black newspapers for free. I had no clips and I was a raw, not yet ready, wannabee writer. This is 2011. I’ll be damned if I give away my stuff for free to millionaires who reassure me my work will now be available to an even wider audience. Meanwhile, Arianna gets paid even more and her contributors still have to grab some salt and eat their clips. It’s called the HUFFINGTON Post, but Arianna wasn’t the only person who made the site practical enough to demand over $300 million for it.

Nobody owes me a living. I have to earn it. Well, I’ve earned the right as a damn good writer who’s paid his dues to expect some compensation for my talents. Quality costs and if you place no value on your writing that’s exactly what you’ll be paid for it. I may be a freelancer, but that doesn’t mean I write for free.

Alec Baldwin can afford to give his stuff to the HuffPo for nothing. I need a check. No pay, no play.

AOL executive TIm Armstrong and Arianna Huffington agree to put a ring on it.

I like the HuffPo in some ways, but their business philosophy SUCKS and as it gains in popularity, it’s freelancers who will get hit in the wallet and that doubly SUCKS. Huffington may be a hero to the Left, but she’s also a cheap skate who screws over freelancers.

I could be wrong, but I’ve always believed the relationship between a freelancer and a publication is one of shared interests. THEY are interested in content and WE are interested in being paid to provide it. Huffington took the internet meme that “All content should be free” and applied it to her self-named website.

Maybe when the HuffPo was a start-up Huffington could make the argument she couldn’t pay for content. That argument became null and void this week. She could pay her writers. She just doesn’t want to.

I know God must have loved poor people because he made so many of them and I developed a second career to pay my bills because it was clear freelancing never would. But I will never feel sorry for a rich person like Huffington who rails against the excesses of capitalism on one hand and acts just as bourgeois in her dealings with the workers as any union-busting boss.

I’m not interested in working on Miss Arianna’s plantation.