A group of southern Californian arts writers who contribute to the online publications ArtScene and Visual Art Source, and, in turn, whose work is shared with the Huffington Post (isn’t the future grand?), have declared a “strike,” refusing to have their work republished by the popular news website until they are 1) compensated for their contributions, and 2) their work no longer appears alongside advertorial content.
The motivation for the writers comes in part from the recent sale of Huffington Post to AOL for $315 million.
“It is unethical to expect trained and qualified professionals to contribute quality content for nothing,” said the writers in their announcement.
“It is extremely unethical to not merely blur but eradicate the distinction between the independent and informed voice of news and opinion and the voice of a shill.”
Bill Lasarow, the publisher and editor of the two websites, said in an interview that the move is “not a hostile act in any sense whatsoever,” but added that the writers felt “like they were being taken advantage of by the company to make an enormous profit.”
This spat will be an interesting one to follow, in part because this kind of content sharing model looks more and more like the future of journalism, especially in the arts. Also, locally, the gallery mag A&C shares its content with Visual Art Source which in turn shares the content with the HuffPo. Will the strike serve as a reminder that multi-million dollar media companies are run by the (often) under-funded content they coax from writers, or will these writers’ efforts to gain leverage merely serve to prove how dispensable we lot actually are?