It was announced in a Forbes.com article last Friday that the Huffington Post and Patch (an AOL hyperlocal collection of 800 sites) will start recruiting teenagers to blog for the for-profit websites. The article, “Huffpo and Patch Recruiting Bloggers as Young as 13,” by staff writer Jeff Bercovici probes the ethical question of having kids blog on behalf of the for-profit institutions when they get no compensation in return.
First some context: Huffington Post is gearing up to launch their newest vertical, HuffPost High School. This site will be the only site produced exclusively by minors and will be edited by the 17-year-old political correspondent prodigy Myles Miller.
This news comes amid controversy for HuffPo because a group of bloggers lead by lead plaintiff Jonathan Tasini has filed a $105 million class-action suit against Arianna Huffington because they believe that bloggers should be compensated for their contributions.
I think this highlights a grave issue currently going on with content sourcing on the web. Sites like Huffington Post call on volunteers to contribute and the only compensation that writer receives is exposure. Exposure is worth its weight in gold if you are writer looking for the next great lead, but if you are a writer trying to have some semblance of a life, free work is not going to get you very far. We all know that the traditional content outlets are going by the wayside and online is taking more and more of the users attention making those “free” contributors even more valuable to the online publications. Pretty much all of which are supported by advertising.
I think with the attention the HuffPost High School business model is receiving, and this class-action suit, the time is now to get fair compensation for online writers. I am not saying to give these people 6-figure salaries, but compensation for their time and end product. For the adults, cash always seem to work, but for the kids, maybe school credit would do just fine. Regardless – they are delivering a huge amount of value for these companies – in fact, they are literally delivering the ONLY thing that’s valuable, and the only thing Huffington post profits from: the content. They need to be fairly compensated for that. Content is what drives the success of every single digital marketing tactic, and marketers and publishers should recognize that and compensate these kids.
What’s your opinion on this? See you below in the comments section!