October 21, 2011

Romenesko+ Misc. | In These Times | Newspaper Guild
The National Writers Union says it’s withdrawing from the Huffington Post boycott launched in March with the Newspaper Guild, “but the NWU is continuing and intensifying our Pay The Writer! campaign to establish fair pay rates for freelance journalists working for the Huffington Post and other online publications.” On Thursday, Mike Elk of In These Times wrote that the two unions failed to put together an effective boycott — where’s the list of “prominent writers” who supposedly back it? — and now “little support remains.” UPDATE: Huffington Post Washington bureau chief Ryan Grim addressed The Newspaper Guild-CWA’s awards banquet Thursday night, saying that the two organizations agreed that professional journalists should be paid and that the Guild had agreed to withdraw its boycott. || Read the Guild’s letter to members.

Press release


Today, the National Writers Union/UAW Local 1981 is withdrawing from the boycott of the Huffington Post, which began after it was acquired by AOL for $315 million last March. NWU and The Newspaper Guild-CWA have been “electronic picket captains” with the support of many, many progressive writers, bloggers and organizations. For now, the boycott has run its course.

But the NWU is continuing and intensifying our Pay The Writer! campaign to establish fair pay rates for freelance journalists working for the Huffington Post and other online publications. On October 11, we held our first national event, a live-streamed panel discussing the future of online freelance journalism (video available on www.paythewriter.org). We will continue to organize around these principles:

* Freelance journalists working for for-profit, multi-million dollar online publications should get paid.
* If you cover the news for anybody, you should get paid.
* If you take on assignments, with an editor, you should get paid.
* Occasional contributions by writers, educators or activists who are promoting a book or a cause could be unpaid and that fact should be acknowledged at the end of the article.
* Frequent and regular contributors should be paid.

NWU President Larry Goldbetter said, “Writers create more than content. We create value and wealth. Just ask Arianna Huffington. Working without pay should not be the expectation of online publications – or online writers. Quality journalism must be justly compensated.”

Today we are in touch with hundreds more writers than we were when we started, and some are joining NWU. Over the coming months our organizing drive will become more active and visible, as hundreds and then thousands of freelance writers add their collective knowledge and wisdom to this campaign. Goldbetter said, “We are confident we are gathering the forces that will make Pay The Writer! a reality.”


On Thursday, Mike Elk described the problems with the Huffington Post boycott:

Instead of running a massive corporate campaign of leafleting outside of Ariana Huffington’s speaking engagements and lining up supporters among prominent writers of the boycott, the two unions [the National Writers Union and the Newspaper Guild] began making good on their big threat of boycotting the website. After the boycott, newspaper guild organizers scrambled to draw up lists of prominent writers supporting the boycott, but still have yet to produce such a list of people in support of the action. Few events or actions have been held to support the boycott, which has largely been ignored by prominent progressives, including several high-profile labor-funded progressives. No deal has been reached between the Huffington Post and the writers union and little support remains for the boycott.

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From 1999 to 2011, Jim Romenesko maintained the Romenesko page for the Poynter Institute, a Florida-based non-profit school for journalists. Poynter hired him in August…
Jim Romenesko

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