Accuracy in Media

It didn’t take long for the left to react to the $315 million AOL-Huffington Post merger that was announced on Monday.  And the reaction was mostly negative.

One group formed a Facebook page with the title of “Hey Arianna, Can You Spare  a Dime” evoking thoughts of the Great Depression.

The description box for the group which has only attracted 145 likes to date is as follows:

AOL gave you $315 million: We’re asking you to give a little back to the unpaid writers who built the Huffington Post.

This is in reference to the bloggers who for the most part weren’t paid for their posts but now watch helplessly as the site they helped build cashes in without them.

The group also points to Huffington’s latest book which to them contradicts her behavior with regard to the merger:

In her book “Third World America,” Arianna Huffington wrote, “It’s no longer an exaggeration to say that middle-class Americans are an endangered species.”

Her book takes to task the greedy tactics of rich bankers who have made it all but impossible for working people to earn a living wage in these harsh economic times.

In her book, it’s clear that she envisions herself a champion of the middle class and a defender of the little guy.

We applaud Ms. Huffington’s position on the working class. Which is why we feel it’s so important for her to understand that the policies of her proudly progressive publication contribute to the economic woes of this nation by driving down the value of journalism.

This $315 million buyout by AOL, along with her $4 million annual salary as part of the deal, was built on the backs of hard-working writers who never saw a dime for their labor. Many of Huffington Post’s most productive contributors broke news and provided astute analysis to regular beats, allowing Huffington to avoid hiring a paid journalist for the same coverage.

We call on Ms. Huffington to live up to the ideals she so earnestly professes and share some of her profits with the people responsible for the Huffington Post’s 117 million unique visitors each month.

Yes Arianna, what are you doing for the little people that helped you make this deal?

Fishbowl LA reports that bloggers have begun deleting their accounts in protest.

Some bloggers have told FishbowlLA, they will just no longer post. Others have reported deleting their accounts. Al Giordano wrote that it took him 90 minutes to take down his account completely and then he posted:

As author and sole owner of the words in this story, I did not write them for AOL, and do not wish to have any association with it imposed upon me. The original text may still be found at – Al Giordano, February 7, 2011

Adbusters is who originally coined the hashtag #huffpuff:

Socialite Arianna Huffington built a blog-empire on the backs of thousands of citizen journalists. She exploited our idealism and let us labor under the illusion that the Huffington Post was different, independent and leftist. Now she’s cashed in and three thousand indie bloggers find themselves working for a megacorp.

And added:

We are the ones who built the Huffington Post. And now we will be the ones who will huff & puff it down.

The Politico reported that the bastion of left wing publications The Nation weighed in on the merger with an e-mail from editor and publisher Katrina vanden Heuvel to its readers and turned it into a fund raising opportunity.

Huffington Post Dear Nation Reader:

Without a doubt, the media world is in tumult.  Newspapers are shedding jobs, venerable institutions are dying off, new upstarts are gaining audience, and everyone it seems is merging or combining to create ever larger corporate conglomerates.

The loss of Keith Olbermann on MSNBC and The Huffington Post’s merger with AOL are just two recent examples (see John Nichols on the subject).

Given all this uncertainty, it’s not surprising that media companies are looking for stability through size. But while mergers and conglomerations might confer economies of scale, they come at enormous cost: independence.

That’s a price that The Nation has never been willing to pay.

It is our independence that you and your fellow Nation readers make possible by providing more than 20% of all of our revenues through extra donations.  Please show us that you cherish our independence as much as we do by making a gift today.  Or check out ten things you can do right now to support our efforts without spending a dime.It is at times like this that we’re reminded of the daring spirit — and responsibility — our 146 years of independence gives us. The Nation (and its many moving parts, including cherishes that independence and will never waver in producing the truthtelling, fearless journalism that sustains and fuels our democracy.

Our longtime editor Carey McWilliams once said:  “It is precisely because The Nation’s supporters cared more about what it stood for than what it earned that the magazine has survived” when countless other media outlets have gone under.

Show us you’re with us by making a gift today or checking out our list of ten things you can do right now to support The Nation without spending a dime.

You have my thanks.


Katrina vanden Heuvel
Editor & Publisher, The Nation

Huffington so far has not directly addressed the complaints from the left preferring instead to talk about the synergies and potential for growth which makes her sound more like a corporate flack than the liberal activist that she really is.

So far the defections have been just a trickle but should they turn into a flood both Huffington and AOL will face a larger than expected challenge in making the deal work.

But having banked $300 million in cash it may not matter that much to Arianna and her investors.

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