Should HuffPo Pay For Writing That's Basically Self-Promotion?

Mar 152011
 

In the wake of The Huffington Post‘s $315 million sale to AOL, two arts writing groups will no longer provide free content for The Huffington Post website until they are paid.

Fat chance, snorted Ariana Huffington. According to a news article on thewrap.com, Huffington “dismissed the notion that all bloggers should be paid, given the wide platform HuffPo gives them. She argued that blogging on the Huffington Post is equivalent to going on Rachel Maddow, Jon Stewart or the Today show to promote their ideas. And, she said, there are plenty of people willing to take their place if they do.”

Sound familiar? It’s the same argument food writers get about why they should not be paid (or paid almost nothing) to write guest posts and web content. It’s all about the exposure, dahhhlings. Doesn’t everyone know that? (See this recent post from colleague Sarah Henry on that topic.)

Steam came out of my ears as I read Huffington’s assertions. But I was also curious. Is the HuffPo food section all about self-promotion? I headed over to  find out.

Here’s what I found: Bloggers write short posts and link to their blog sites or promote their books. Authors write posts based on upcoming books. A videographer announces a new project. Another videographer writes a supposed piece about health and vitality, really an ad for his new documentary.

Then there’s fake news (one chef dissing another chef; what some rock band I’ve never heard of eats while on the road) and other bits and pieces that are essentially just jumps to someone else’s website.

As a former editor, I wouldn’t have paid for this stuff either.

I found a few exceptions, where people wrote real content. Here’s something useful: A piece for food bloggers on how Google’s new Recipe Search works. And at least the ongoing collection of recipes driving traffic to Food52 offers jumps to decent recipes.

The HuffPo’s food section includes real news articles, such as how the Pork Board is retiring “The Other White Meat” slogan and “Agriculture Industry Pushes to Make Undercover Filming of Farm Animal Abuse Illegal.” I suspect this is the writing Huffington actually pays for. She said she employs 183 journalists. Are any of these people food writers? No. They’re journalists writing about food in the news. Their  editors place the stories in the food section.

In the end I couldn’t muster the interest to read most of the section. I suppose that’s the moral of the story. You know that adage, “You get what you pay for?” This time, when it comes to self-promoting filler, I’m with Huffington. I guess the bigger question is, why publish it at all?

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  57 Responses to “Should HuffPo Pay For Writing That's Basically Self-Promotion?”

  1. Dianne, I just wanted to comment and say that I purchased your book, Will Write for Food today and I’m extremely excited to start reading it and improve my new cooking blog. Thanks for being so darn inspiring!

  2. I was kind of surprised to learn that HuffPo had any writers at all on staff, considering it’s simply a news aggregator. I suppose they need some “filler” for the slower news days or for the categories that are generally a little light on their news most days.

    Most of the other stories are self-promoting, so essentially HuffPo could be considered a beautiful and legal platform for spam. I suppose, given the opportunity to appear on the Today Show (which had 5.65 M viewers for February sweeps week) or HuffPo (which gets a reported 72 M page views a day) you can see that either would be a hard opportunity to pass up.

    • Yes, me too. They have to have some legitimate content to go with all the filler! I suppose it is a big deal to get on HuffPo. So why not make the content a worthwhile read?

  3. I think serious food- writing deserves serious compensation.

  4. Why publish it at all? I can think of $315 million reasons.

    • Yeah. Nice number. Before I used to think the writers deserved some of it for creating all that content for free, but now I am not sure.

  5. I think this brings to the deeper issue of when is “exposure” enough instead of payment?

    I’ve been tapped to write a recipe book by a manufacturer that will be included with their product and translated into 15 languages – they will not pay me because they will give me “International Exposure” and they are paying for the “production costs” including professional food photography.

    I’ve only been blogging about food for 10 months, but the quality of my content for this particular cooking appliance is head and shoulders above what is out there -including some innovations never made with that equipment – but is it something someone would pay me for? How else can I get exposure without feeling like I’m being used?

    This is the question I ask myself, and alot of bloggers should ask themselves. When should the freebies stop and what is the value in what they are doing? And, for me anyway, is there really someone out there with the same expertise that can replace them for free?

    L

    • That definitely sounds like it needs to be a paying gig to me. Where is the shame? That’s the equivalent of technical writing. I took out my old Welbuilt bread machine this past year and the manual was beautifully written and had just about every bread recipe under the sun. It was a relic from when manufacturers actually cared about people knowing how to use their product. I find it deeply offensive that they want you do write it gratis, but it sounds like you’re involved in it already, so not sure how you can bargain payment from them.

      • I don’t think you should work for free either. They are taking advantage of you. They can pay you less than a very experienced writer and that will be good enough.

        • Thanks Basia and Diane for your feedback,

          It has taken a while for me to respond because at the time I wrote my comment we were still negotiating and I was hoping for closure. Well, things are up in the air now because originally, the manufacturer had said that including my website in the bio would not be a problem (somehow I plan to make a little $ from it in the future). It would seem only fair to me that, if I’m not paid that I should be able to promote my website! However, their last proposal was that I give them my recipes, and spend a week cooking them so a professional can photograph them and not be able to mention my website. Or.. they will mention it only if I remove recipes, photos andmentions of all their competitors. Uhm, let me thnk about that…. No! The whole thing just stunk too much for me to swallow.

          I’m a food blogger, not a door mat!

          So we are a little bit at an impasse, and they invited me for a full “expenses paid” trip by airplane to their company in a country next to where I live where we could sort this out in person. This whole thing has been going on for about three months. I’l be jetting there next month.

          In the meantime, I apporached another manufacturer and they are overjoyed at using not only recipes that I’ve already published on my blog, but also my photos and have no quams at mentioning my website at the bottom of each one – all this sorted out in a week and it was no big deal. They recognized me as the leader in my sector (actually I am only one making “food porn” with the results from their appliance and providing step-by-step photos) and were happy and honored to be working with me! This new, second, manufacturer also said that I could demo their product at Surlatable, ect if I was interested. Uhm… yeaaa!

          Amazing how many doors saying, “no” can open! I will not be hesitant to say so again!

          In the meantime, I’m working on my OWN book proposal that I will submit mid-May. And with the help of your blog, Diane come up with a snazzy title and eye-catching presentation!

          Thanks for your comments and feedback! Will leave a comment to let you kow if there are any new developments!

          L

    • They absolutely should be paying you. You’re providing them with something that’s worth money, and with all due respect, the fact that this pamphlet is being translated and distributed in 15 languages is not exactly exposure that’s going to advance you any more than your blog will. After all, your blog presumably is enough exposure that they found you, and who ever looks at the recipe writer for a pamphlet distributed with a product? It’s going to have their brand plastered across it, but where will your name be? Are these even potential readers? How much weight do you personally place in these kinds of things, anyway — would you go buy a cookbook based on a pamphlet like this?

      Yes, of course they’re paying “production costs.” They’re producing a product. That’s how it works.

      Or, to put it in other words — would it make any sense for a graphic designer to do their packaging for free just because it’s going to be distributed in dozens of countries?

      If they’re taking advantage of you, you can always say no.

      How do you price it? You could set a price per hour of work, for instance, or based on the word count, once you’ve figured out approximately how long it will take you and what price makes it worthwhile.

      How do you get exposure? Well, that’s why you have a blog. Top blogs draw hundreds of thousands of readers.

  6. I’d like to hear from some food bloggers who’ve actually posted on HuffPo to tell whether writing a free article for traffic is worth it. I’m of the inclination that it *is* worth it, for the immediate exposure as well as long term affects on Search Engine results. Isn’t it just like guest posting on another, more authoritative blog? The question is, who is doing the editing / quality control?

    • Yes, that’s the question for me too. I’m sure the main reason people post is for the exposure, since it’s not for the money. Some people write for fun, like Denise Vivaldo. It must help her platform as well.

  7. A HuffPo writer linked to my blog last week as part of a short Mardi Gras story on soup, and it generated very few clicks for me. So I’m not overwhelmed by the site’s ability to generate traffic, frankly.

  8. I must admit to vacillating feelings as I read this post. As I’ve written before, the issue of compensating writers is huge and needs to be thoughtfully discussed and acted upon. However, there is also the issue of self promotion and finding a venue to be heard.

    I was saddened to read that “In the end I couldn’t muster the interest to read most of the section.” There are some WONDERFUL articles in the food section. Respected writers such as: Elissa Altman (Poorman’s Feast), Kurt Michael Friese (Real Food for All), Jamie Schler (Life’s a Feast), Stephanie Stiavetti (Wasabimon), Denise Vivaldo (Food Fanatics); and many others, all have contributed meaningful and informative posts. I too periodically write for the Huffington Post. If you look at my articles, they range from a lament on the plight of the produce worker, a review of molecular gastronomy; to a tour of a historic rice factory in Italy. Although we all wish to find a greater audience, none of the above mentioned writers are PR people looking to make a commercial. The Huffington Post gives me an opportunity to reach beyond the confines of my blog.

    There is an editor who decides what and when things should be published. That editor works for the Huffington Post. As to the traffic? It often depends on how many comments one gets. Denise’s article about the Kwanza cake recipe, received so many that it was finally taken down. My understanding of the purpose of the Huffington post is to assist in creating community. Isn’t that what we are all doing by commenting here? Like any other magazine, if you aren’t interested, don’t read it. Obviously, many people find the articles stimulating and useful.

    Of course it all comes back to compensation. We are in a “brave new world” and the old structure doesn’t hold. Do we all have to be sponsored, take ads, write commercials? I don’t know. Yes, I’d love to be paid for my work; however, I’m under no illusions that the Huffington Post has any need or desire to compensate me. Of course, they are also not dictating how often I write nor on what topic. For those of us who enjoy writing, finding outlets seem to be our main goal, regardless of the renumeration. Look at how much I just wrote in response to your post.

    • Hi Lael, I was hoping you would comment. Thanks for the long reply.

      Yes, the people you mentioned are all wonderful writers and I have enjoyed their posts. As I said, there are exceptions. (BTW, HuffPo removed Vivaldo’s post because of liability issues, not because of traffic.)

      I assume the key reason you are writing for HuffPo is for exposure. The posts show Giuliano’s books at the bottom and include links to your website. You are getting “compensation” in the form of links or possible book sales — and in the status of saying you write for HuffPo. Would you would write such stories if HuffPo had very small readership? Probably not. It is a business decision. I am fine with that. And if you get to write whatever you want and that pleases you, so much the better.

      However, other people write whatever they want on the site also, with less regard to whether it is of any value. Maybe the editors don’t edit filler much, since it is not valued.

      Re community, I don’t think the food section has much of one. Most of the posts are not worthy of comments, and don’t generate them. The hard news and sensational stories get replies, as do the exceptions such as those you mentioned.

  9. Indeed – you get what you pay for, and if you pay sh!t, you’ll have a news site full of it. That’s why I have a tough time reading HuffPo. Most of the writers’ agendas are plastered across their posts, which is a real turn off. Can you imagine how the site might be even stronger with all paid writers and selective editors? Sure, what’s she’s doing works (which is clear from more than just the sum of the sale), but anything can be improved.

    At this point I’d say that HuffPo works for me only as an aggregator. A place I can go to skim and see if there’s something I want to read elsewhere. As for what I post there, it’s never self promotion – it’s all reposted work from my blog, which was legit to begin with – though I do link back to my blog, which is useful.

    • Wow, this is something — to have a HuffPo contributor agree with me about the quality of the posts there. (Of course, since your posts are just intros with links to your blog, it’s mostly a way to drive traffic to your site. I hope it works for you.)

      Re “anything can be improved,” well, only if they want to improve it. Editors would have to have higher standards for what they accept and they’d have to actually edit the copy. And since this model of aggregate self-promotion is working for the HuffPo financially, there’s not much incentive, I fear.

  10. So, does writing for free help to pay your car payment, put food on your table, pay your mortgage or phone bill or medical bills?

    Imagine going to the doctor and telling them that you’ll tell all your friends about them and don’t think they should be paid for their time and skills because your word of mouth about their bedside manner is all they need.

    Could you call up the phone/cable/internet provider and tell them you think they should give you their services for free since you’ll put something on the bottom of all your emails and text messages, blog and Facebook pages that this service is provided pro bono by XXX company?

    Do you think your mortgage company or electric company would hold back fits of laugher at you if you told them you’ll put a sign on your house that their company graciously allows you to live there or provides you with electric power!

    I don’t think so and I don’t think writers should write for a site that makes a profit, whether it is $10,000 a year or $315 million a year!!! It’s those who write for free that make it difficult for any of us to be taken seriously as writers who want to make a genuine living at the craft.

    Writers provide a service and without them these big sites such as “HuffPo” would not be in business making that $315 million. Arianna Huffington is making money off the backs of people who are hard working and if they can be thought to be skilled at their craft enough to have their writing posted, they deserve to be paid.

    An old saying about a cow and the milk comes to mind here.

    • I agree in general, but writers also have to produce professional and worthwhile copy to have it be valued.

      Hard news is valued at HuffPo, hence they have a paid staff of journalists to cover breaking news. The rest, obviously, is not.

  11. I am reading your book now, and you make a point about writing for free to get some published clips to add to your portfolio. I admire anyone who can make a living as a professional writer. I used to be a technical writer, which wasn’t an immensely well-paid profession but sustainable. In the short time I’ve been updating my blog, I’ve been asked to contribute to two local websites for no compensation. I am willing to do it for a bit but not (hopefully) on an ongoing basis. I spoke with a laidoff journalist recently who told me not to write anything for free, she’s making a living now as a publicist. I suppose the upshot is how much you value yourself and your writing skill. Blogging and social media are all new to me, so I’m happy to try and see where it leads, but I’m not planning on writing gratis forever.

    • Yes, that is the dilemma. I did say, in my book, that if you are a beginning writer, you need clips, and if writing them for free is the only way to get them, so be it. I don’t advocate writing for free in general, and certainly not for experienced writers. We all choose what we will do for free, and whether there is a benefit. I guess the people who write self-promotion for HuffPo believe there is a benefit to it, and the HuffPo editors just look the other way and accept it as filler.

      • I think the rise of blogs also changes the value of writing for free. Ten years ago, no one had a way of being published if you didn’t get someone else to do it. Nowadays, write a high quality blog and you’ll get noticed. You don’t necessarily need free clips in order to build a portfolio — that is what your blog is for.

  12. My cousin does pieces (not food) for Huffington Post directly related to promoting his book. And according to him, it is helpful in book sales. I have no aspirations of getting paid for my blog – so maybe I am muddying the waters? I also don’t send to places like Huff to drive traffic. That said, I am a writer and expect to get paid for my plays. There is a new trend (ten years) of theatres increasingly asking for fees to get a play read for a festival. A small town in MS will ask for $10 to read a ten-minute play insistng that the exposure will help the playwright’s career. (Very doubtful) Many playwrights have joined together in saying they will not pay fees. But of course, enough do that a festival happens. Maybe they are all individual choices. I do not pay fees and I expect royalties – especially for full lengths. Am I missing out on opportunities? In the end, it’s my decision.

    • Well great. Your cousin belongs in the category I described, called self-promotion. I wonder whether his posts make worthwhile reading, or whether they’re thinly disguised like the other stuff I read.

      Exactly right that it is your decision. Just as Lael and your cousin decided that HuffPo is a good promotional tool for them, you can decide that you only want to work for pay.

      • Yes – my cousin does indeed try to relate back to his book. He did do one post with a great deal of humor that went viral. It did help his book, people enjoyed it. I think this new world of social media and promoting is a new fronteir. I may not always love it – being very traditional – but it’s here to stay.

        • If he can manage to produce great content while promoting his book, no one will mind!

  13. I think there are some great things on HuffPo in the food section. I wouldn’t dismiss most of it as filler/self-promo.

    They raise a good point about self-promotion and people using it as a platform for that, though. I wouldn’t necessarily want to pay for that, either. Some, I might. And as the person promoting, I would find it useful enough to do it for free, I think. (ONLY self-promotional stuff, touting my latest book.) If I write something unrelated to my own work (and not on my own blog), then I want to get paid for it.

    • You know, it’s great to be able to promote yourself through your work. The issue is that you still have to produce work of value, because otherwise no one will want to read it.

      I just wrote a piece for Writer’s Digest magazine on food writing. I got to mention my book in the story, in my bio and in the author’s bio that appears at the front of the book. So I got lots of exposure and I did some self-marketing. I also worked my butt off to deliver an excellent piece of writing that delighted the editor. That made me happy, because she thinks my article will be of value to her readers. And, I might add, it paid very well.

      That is what I think is worthwhile. Writing filler that even the editors don’t bother editing is not valuable to readers.

  14. Huffington Post angers me, and so does Salon.com. Salon has one staff food writer and runs a weekly contest for food writing with the winning article appearing on the site and being paid in –you guesses it– “exposure.” The unpaid articles are often the best ones on Salon, and they’re unlikely to ever pay anyone because they have a source of free content forever.

    The worst part to me is that it creates a climate where writing seems of no value: Why should anyone want to pay writers? Let’s just follow the HuffPo model!

    I’m glad there are still magazines out there that pay top dollar. Isn’t it interesting that that’s often where you can find the highest quality writing?

    • I read Salon.com’s food section ONLY because of Francis Lam’s excellent work. I rarely ever read the “contest” submissions, and they’re far from the best writing in the food section. I’d argue that Lam’s writing is the real draw….prior to his participation, I didn’t even know Salon had a food section.

      • Salon.com didn’t have a food section before! Frances Lam went from Gourmet to Salon to start it. And yes, he’s the best part.

    • Oh wow, I didn’t know about this new contest. I guess Frances Lam’s getting pressure from above to get work for free instead of paying for it, a la HuffPo and The Atlantic. A sad state of affairs. I do believe he pays for freelance pieces as well.

      There aren’t many magazines left that pay top dollar. I’ve worked for two recently and I’m grateful.

    • I think “what is a writer” has hugely been in flux the last ten years. For me, I see Reality TV (which is how old now?) as a disaster for writers. But people love them, it’s cheaper without scripted shows and am wondering if writers need to re-invent themselves.

      • Yes, we have to keep doing so all the time. This is the latest version for some writers. I don’t like it.

  15. In reading the story you linked to, the biggest surprise to me wasn’t that she’s scoffing at those who demand payment, but the final statement “Huffington also stressed the need for building quality content for the AOL brand – “like HBO.”” It seems it will be a lot harder to build quality content by not compensating the contributors. The contributors aren’t journalists; they are flacks. She built her model partially on the backs of those who were under the assumption they would eventually be compensated, who were seemingly unaware that what she was really doing was building a symbiotic model of promotion. Those who feel bamboozled will no longer participate, but the machine will roll on, and those who play the game properly will flourish. I don’t question her model (it’s made her and her investors $315 million richer), but I do question her integrity and wonder what the big reveal does to both the content and the readership. I occasionally check in there, but the content often lacks the substance I prefer. I consider it indirect marketing content, and the regular contributors to be strategic marketers. On occasion it may lead me to a book, product or event, but it certainly isn’t breaking news. Now that the curtain has opened, I’m wondering if they will up their editorial standard, as they are bound to be bombarded by all types of self-promoters previously blind to this opportunity, just as they are bound to lose readership.

    • I like these terms you’ve identified: writing as indirect marketing; writers as strategic marketers.

      I don’t think HuffPo could have a successful site JUST based on that kind of content. That’s why she pays real journalists for breaking news. I agree completely that she’s not going to get quality content for AOL without paying for it. It will be interesting to see how the site evolves. On the other hand, I don’t agree that contributors thought they would eventually be compensated. I’m pretty sure it was clear all along that they wouldn’t be. It was, and still is, all about the exposure.

      People already bombard HuffPo day and night with story ideas for self-marketing opportunities. Maybe the editors pick what is the least offensive and hope for the best. They certainly don’t edit it much. Sometimes they get quality, often they don’t. If their goal is to mix it up with real news and create a lot of pages for ad revenue, they’ve succeeded.

  16. Hi Dianne,

    Appreciate the nod to my post about writing for free (or token compensation) and the quandary journalists and bloggers find themselves in these days.

    Your post today addresses many of the concerns a lot of writers have about the HuffPo model –I’m sure some people will take issue with your concept of the self-promotional post but I’m glad you raised it.

    • Thank you! As I mentioned to you in an email, I had three unsubscribes from this blog post. So yes, some readers were not amused.

      • Fascinating – why unsubscribe when a fact of life is brought up:?

        • I don’t know! I just get a notice of the unsubscribe. People don’t say no. It was a total of 4 yesterday. That is a record.

          • Maybe that was unrelated? Are people not willing to admit to themselves when they’re doing self-promotion?

          • Dianne, I think some people unsubscribe when the conversations take a more serious tone. Some readers just don’t like to have to think about things, but would rather be entertained with pretty pictures and tales about celebrities. Don’t let a few “unsubscribers” change what you are doing – we value your thoughts as well as your unique perspective.
            Karen

          • This is strange because I had notices for 2 unsubscribers a day apart. Never saw that before. Maybe something odd is happening unbeknownst to the suscribers :-) And Karen is right, for every unsubscriber there are hundreds of us who value and learn a lot from your posts and these discussions!

  17. It would be so much easier if everything were so cut and dried, so black and white. Different people do different things, makes different choices for different reasons and I find it disheartening to sense so much anger and read so many statements made in absolutes. Call me old fashioned or call me naïve, but I weigh out my options and my choices and make decisions on what is important and valid to me, not necessarily what others expect of me. And every time I am asked for something or offered an “opportunity”, I try and consider what exactly I am getting in return and if it worth the time, energy and effort I put into whatever is asked of me. And believe it or not, sometimes there are other bigger payments than simply money.

    I was asked to join the blogging team on the Huffington Post when they started their food page and I jumped at the chance. I had never written for any publication outside of my own blog and one or two small group blogs, and this was indeed an enormous opportunity for me. They were willing to take me on, give me the chance to write for a tremendous audience that had built up and brought to me. Lael made two extremely good points in her comment: as a writer, it is very important to me to be heard and Huffington Post gave me an exciting platform and a huge audience. The second refers to compensation: Sometimes we take other things, in this case that audience, exposure, and the contact with a much wider community, in place of monetary remuneration and sometimes it is even better for us at the time and in that particular situation. I have, as some of you have, spoken at food blogging conferences for nothing more than a free ticket. Isn’t this the same thing?

    It is somewhat like the college grad applying for his or her first job: every employer is only looking to hire people with experience, yet no one will give the first timer a chance to get that experience. Writing for the Huffington Post gave me that first job experience, if you will. It also brought me a lot of notice and a lot of respect, much of it from professionals in the writing and publishing business. So many people now read my writing, my stories that would never have found me or read my blog without the Huff Post. Thanks to that as well as all of the other things I have accomplished, participated in or created in parallel, I am now getting offers for paid work.

    As Lael pointed out, I can submit articles when I like, when I have the time. I can also stop writing for them when it no longer makes sense for me. Yes, I would love to be paid hard cash for everything I do but I don’t; some things I do for passion, some for community, some as simply a wise professional move, part of a wider plan.

    I also want to say that I agree that some of what is written and published on Huff Post is not the best of quality. It also seems that lately they have taken on a lot of bloggers kind of randomly with no thought to quality and both these things do make me think twice about continuing. This is their choice but one that I find both unwise and unnecessary.

    • Nice comment, Jamie. It is good to read the point if view of an individual contributor to understand how you weighed your decision, followed by how it worked out for you. Everything is a choice, and every choice isn’t about money. Thanks for driving that point home.

      • A choice must have a favorable outcome. If the traffic and prestige are what matters, then I agree, it’s not just about money. In my book, I said new writers might have to write for free to get clips. A clip is a favorable outcome. Same thing.

    • Thank you for this passionate response, Jamie. You have made perfect sense. I didn’t mean to say that people are making the wrong decision by writing for the Huffington Post. Certainly writing for a big site and getting heard is wonderful. And if you feel that you have received something worthwhile in return, more power to you.

      Yes, last year I went to a conference to speak at a panel and sell my book — at my own expense! I figure it was worth it to be among so many food bloggers. Sometimes I make decisions like that. This year, I don’t have another book. I doubt that I would make the same decision again.

      My displeasure is about the quality of the posts, many of which are thinly-veiled marketing pitches. I don’t think of you as a writer in that category.

      • Thank you, Dianne. After I had turned off my computer last night I realized that I hadn’t given my response to the flip side of the question. As I mentioned above, I did realize a sudden jump in the number of bloggers writing for the food page and at the same time saw a drop in the quality of the posts. I wondered what had happened and may ask the editor of the food page his thoughts and opinions on this. If, as some of you pointed out, some pieces in the Post are written by paid journalists, then obviously someone (Arianna, most likely) understands that, yes, you get what you pay for and if you want quality writing and journalism you pay for it. Sadly, she will start losing her talented bloggers if on top of not being paid they find themselves just as part of a huge crowd, many of whom are writing garbage, self-promotion or trashy gossip. It amazes me that she would rather have quantity than quality and doesn’t see that the quality of what goes into the paper reflects on the paper as a whole.

        From personal e-mails I receive from the editor of the food page, I suspect that there are indeed people working for HuffPo who understand their fragile position vis à vis the better writers, those they may feel do give weight to the food page and I wonder if his reaching out to me was a way to make sure I wouldn’t leave. It’s very curious.

        One more thought: I love reading through the comments on posts. Readers are very vocale and harshly honest. How many “articles” have been followed by several or even dozens of comments trashing the article, saying that the piece is worthless, a waste of space and that the HuffPo shouldn’t lower themselves to publishing such pieces. Someone out there should be listening to the readers as well.

        • Thanks for another thoughtful post, Jamie.

          Readers respond by not commenting. It’s one thing if you’re a new blogger with not many readers, but since HuffPo gets an amazing amount of hits per day, there should be more response. It’s just icing if they’re willing to say the piece is worthless. I salute them for that.

          Re losing talent, as long as the paid journalists get paid well for their work, and it’s out there for the world to see, they may not mind being surrounded by filler.

          I guess the people at the top don’t care. And since I found out from Denise that the editors don’t have to edit the filler, it’s not more work for them. Maybe you will send the editor of the food page a link to this post and comments? But probably, it won’t tell him or her anything new.

  18. Love this post DJ.
    Okay I agree with everything and everyone that said something.
    The good, the bad, the ugly and the truth.
    For me: HP is big exposure. My book sales have gone up.
    I know Arianna and she is a wonderful woman. She asked me to blog.
    I have. She’s smart. And in this world of self promotion and the internet
    her idea worked.
    I’m thrilled when HP publishes a piece of mine and…. it is just stuff I write for fun.
    HP does not edit me ..let’s me swear and no deadlines. No guidelines.
    I love the freedom.
    I will say this .. I read blogs, magazines, paid journalists and food writers .I think .. alot of that is shit, too. Please stop boring me.
    Please don’t tell me that if you get paid it’s better.
    But, I also beliieve people should not work for free…take your HP posts and turn them into a paying gig.
    But, to write is the gift.
    The Making of the Kwanzza Cake was removed because Sandra Lee was threatening lawsuits-to me and the HP, i told HP to remove.
    There was no reason for me to leave it up, it already had gone viral.
    And made me so happy.
    Could for you DJ. xo

    • Thanks Denise. The exposure is worth something if it helps your book sales. The lift from the piece about Sandra Lee must have been fantastic! And on top of it, to write just for fun is terrific too. That is a bonus.

      So, there is NO EDIT AT ALL. Worse than I thought. That explains a lot.

      You are right that a lot of other food writing is boring. I just don’t like the thinly-veiled promotion and the fact that there is no effort to limit it or edit it. I don’t think that is true of other media, where the writing can be boring just based on the topic or writing style!

      I always enjoy your posts on HuffPo. To date it has been the only food writing I’ve read there with any regularity.

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