Planning, Startups, Stories


Tim Berry on business planning, starting and growing your business, and having a life in the meantime.

You Can’t Eat Truth Either … But it Still Matters

As blogger, former full-time journalist, and long-term entrepreneur, I’m offended from all three sides by journalists complaining that bloggers don’t get paid on the Huffington Post.

I’m offended by the envy. The money Arianna Huffington and her investors made on the sale of Huffington Post to AOL was classic entrepreneurship, earned by taking risks. They risked their time, money, health, and reputations. They established a business, hired people, rented offices, bought computers, bought server space, and all that. So when they make something happen, they deserve the dollars.

I’m also offended by the distortion. Huffington Post does have journalists on staff, and they get paid as journalists. If you don’t get it, you should probably read this explanation from one of them. And Huffington Post also publishes posts from thousands of bloggers, me included, who post there voluntarily, as self expression, mostly opinion, with no expectation of being paid for it. They want an audience. The distortion on the poster (in the illustration here) makes me angry. “You can’t eat prestige” is pure sensationalism, complete distortion.

Is Twitter exploiting people who tweet? Is Facebook exploiting its users?

The house painter gets paid. The landscape painter doesn’t.

The passport photographer gets paid. The news photographer gets paid. The art photographer doesn’t.

The journalist gets paid. The reporter gets paid. The investigative journalist gets paid. The author of the letter to the editor doesn’t.

Some bloggers are journalists, and should be paid. Reporters for Mashable, Engadget, TechCrunch and Read/Write Web, to cite some well-known examples, are journalists, and they get paid. Guest posters aren’t journalists usually, and they don’t usually get paid.

Summary: entrepreneurship is big risk, and big money if you make something that succeeds. Journalism is work and there is expectation of pay. Some blogging is work with expectation of pay, and some is self expression, which is its own reward.

(Disclosure: I blog on the Huffington Post and my son is CTO. I was also a member of the Newspaper Guild as a professional journalist, on salary with United Press International, a correspondent for McGraw-Hill World News, and a freelancer.)

  • Any online community is fueled by people passionate about the community. I reviewed a lot of books on Amazon. I also bought and sold a lot of stuff on eBay. Does that mean I’m owed shares of the company? Absolutely not. It is absurd to me when an outside group comes from out of the woodwork fabricating harm where none exists and creating sturm and drang in the process. It doesn’t serve any purpose other than egomania.

    • Thanks Charles, and I totally agree with you on that one. Tim

  • “Is Twitter exploiting people who tweet? Is Facebook exploiting its users?”

    Actually, they do. With their permission.

    • Berislav, thanks, you made me think with that one. Do you think we should take Facebook’s valuation and divide it up by the number of updates or photos or something and say everybody should get their tiny piece of it? That’s an interesting thought. We could divide Twitter’s valuation into the total number of tweets, and say each member deserves that much of it. Intriguing, but is that what’s really happening when we tweet, or post an update on Facebook? I don’t think so. That’s sort of what the journalist groups are saying is happening with Huffington Post … divide the $315 million by the number of blog posts and pay each blogger that amount as a share. And, as you can tell from the post, I don’t buy it.

      I do like your addition, though, it is tangential but interesting. Thanks, Tim