AOL / Huffington Post Strike Exposes Bigger Picture of Media Crisis
Since The Newspaper Guild, representing 26,000 writers and journalists across the country, officially entered into the AOL / Huffington Post strike action on March 17th there have been significant new developments. Guild President Bernie Lunzer has called on Huffington to meet with Guild representatives.
Last week it was reported, on the heels of the Guild’s declaration, that the presidents of the AFL-CIO and the United Steelworkers had been drawn into the fray, but were yet to declare a public position that would reconcile the fact that they have for some time placed written statements on the Huffington Post with the Guild’s position. The AFL-CIO’s Richard Trumka last posted there on March 4th; the United Steelworker’s Leo Gerard on March 11th. Gerard has since made public that he will honor the “virtual picket line.” We are watching with interest to see how the nation’s major labor unions collaborate with The Newspaper Guild.
Separately, it was also reported that the new AOL / Huffington Post had laid off 900 workers, but that the company was also beginning to distinguish between “professional journalism” and “adhoc blogging.” Company spokesman Mario Ruiz stated, “We stand squarely behind The Newspaper Guild’s mission of ensuring that media professionals receive fair compensation.”
The Guardian once again asked me to write a column, published on Monday, explaining these latest developments; a link is also included below.
The Huffington strike has exposed the fact that the writing and journalism fields have undergone vast changes in recent years that has resulted in a crisis. One half of that crisis is that much of what now passes as professional writing is not; the other half is that many who once made a dignified living as respected professionals no longer are able to do so. Huffington, it turns out, is only a part of this much larger story.
Here are links to selected stories over the last week:
Newspaper Guild President Bernie Lunzer, Open Letter to Arianna Huffington, March 24th:
Guardian Op-Ed by Bill Lasarow, posted March 28th:
Story in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, March 22nd, by Ann Belser:
Media-ite article by Alex Alvarez, March 23rd:
The original strike notice, distributed February 26th–
The Newspaper Guild’s statement as posted at their website March 17th: