Recently I came across the website of Le Huffington’s Post French-language edition. Its editorial content is under the control of Anne Sinclair, wife (now separated) of former International Monetary Fund chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn. She is paid to identify and publish the most thought-provoking bloggers.
The Huffington Post is chockfull of absorbing essays written by a wide assortment of independent bloggers.
What is most interesting about those stories though is the fact that none of these writers are paid a dime.
They work or free.
We are now seeing the dawn of an insidious and dangerous form of servitude variously called internship, experience or “exposure”.
One of the most successful outfits to benefit from this new form of bondage is Le Huffington Post.
It has fired over 200 editorial staffers to replace them with unpaid bloggers.
These people will spend a great deal of time writing some interesting pieces and Le Huffington Post will publish some of them (and reap the benefits) without paying its authors a dime.
Bloggers go along with this new form of slavery to benefit from what Le Post calls “exposure”. The roundabout way of being “discovered” by the public and being properly compensated.
But it is a kind of “catch-22”. You can write forever and never be discovered, or you can write and be published but without being compensated. Lasting obscurity or recognition without monetary rewards, what is a blogger to do?
Exposure in theory should lead to great paying jobs, but it rarely does.
It is an old ploy that has been used in many fields to take advantage of eager but obscure talents.
And this way of doing business sets a dangerous precedent. “Interns” in many fields are already exploited and unceremoniously dumped at the end of their contract. What’s next? Permanent interns?
Le Post has been sued by many for making enormous profits without compensating anybody for a fair share of its earnings.
The Post is merely saying that it is acting as an aggregator: a wholesale broker of a service, who packages and sells its products to consumers.
It might be so, but when does exposure start paying the rent?
Exposure does not feed its man, and recognition without monetary rewards should not become the new norm.
Anne Sinclair, ma chère, if you want to publish my fabulous stuff, you will have to woo me and compensate me adequately.
And flowers and Champagne would not hurt!