Last February, AOL acquired and merged with the popular leftwing Huffington Post for a reported $315 million. That’s a handsome pile of cash for HuffPost owner Arianna Huffington, née Arianna Stassinopoulos, an immigrant from Greece who pretended she was a conservative when she was married to millionaire and former California GOP Congressman Michael Huffington, the son of Roy Huffington, founder of the natural gas exploration company, Roy M. Huffington, Inc. (HUFFCO). As Wikipedia puts it:
“Huffington met her future husband Michael Huffington in 1985. They were married a year later. They later established residency in Santa Barbara, California, in order for him to run in 1992 as a Republican for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives, which he won by a significant margin. Arianna campaigned for her husband, courting religious conservatives, arguing for smaller government and a reduction in welfare.”
In 1994, after just one term as Congressman, Michael ran for the Senate but lost to Dianne Feinstein. In 1997, the Huffingtons divorced and Michael promptly declared he’s bi-sexual. Arianna also came out – as a liberal.
Though she was married for only 12 out of her 60 years, Arianna kept her married name, Huffington carrying greater caché than her native Stassinopoulos. In 2005, Arianna co-founded The Huffington Post. After AOL’s merger buy-out, Arianna is the editor-in-chief of the Huffington Post Media Group.
HuffPost became one of the most popular political websites in no small part because of its stable of bloggers, some/many of whom were unpaid but whose writings through the years had helped to make HuffPost popular and thus, in AOL’s judgment, worth $315 million. Now a group of these unpaid bloggers have launched a class action lawsuit against HuffPost, demanding their share of the $315 million.
I thought liberals/Democrats care about workers and their just compensation? This is just more hypocrisy from the Left.
This lawsuit will have ripple effects beyond HuffPost. As an example, our own Candance Moore had been an unpaid writer for NewsBusters. Unlike Fellowship of the Minds that generates not even one cent in revenue because we don’t do ads, NewsBusters does carry ads on its site. If NewsBusters were to be purchased for a handsome sum, its unpaid bloggers who had helped make NewsBusters’ reputation should also be compensated!
Bloggers of the World Unite!
Jeff Bercovici, Forbes, April 12, 2011
Huffington Post bloggers who think they ought to get paid for their volunteer writing have been litigating their case in the court of public opinion. Now they’re taking it to a real one.
Today, a group of bloggers led by union organizer and journalist Jonathan Tasini filed a class-action suit against the Huffington Post, founder Arianna Huffington, and AOL, which acquired the news-and-blogs site in February.
Tasini, the lead plaintiff, has been a blogger for Huffpo since December 2005, when the site was just seven months old. According to his blogger page, however, he stopped posting on February 10, three days after the purchase of the site by AOL was announced. I emailed him for more information about the suit; he responded by inviting me to participate in a telephone press conference. (Update: On the call this morning, Tasini vowed to make Huffington “a pariah in the progressive community” and said his goal is to set a precedent that writers must share in the value they create.)
Tasini was also the lead plaintiff in New York Times Co. vs. Tasini, a lawsuit over the rights of papers to license the work of freelancers for distribution via electronic databases.That case was decided in favor of the plaintiffs.
AOL has been sued over its use of unpaid labor before: In 1999, two volunteers who served as chatroom moderators under its “Community Leader” program sued, saying they were essentially being used as workers in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act. That suit was eventually resolved with a $15 million settlement.
(For more on this lawsuit and a link to the full complaint, read my follow-up story here.)
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