Why I Left The Huffington Post

Yesterday The Huffington Post “posted” the last piece I will write for them, probably, barring the serendipity of life.  Below is my email exchange with Roy Sekoff, the founding editor, on the subject.  Arianna Huffington, for her part, is surprisingly accessible via email; however, she never delivers bad news personally, it seems, but always leaves that task to Roy.  At least, so I deduce from the fact that so it has gone three times over the past year (last winter and then now) in email exchanges with Arianna and Roy about paying me for work.  And at the end of the day, that is the crux:  I want to be paid for my time and effort—or at a minimum, to get a little remuneration in return for the money I spend myself in order to do original reportage.  I would not expect to be paid for punditry.  The Huffington Post business model is to provide a platform for 6,000 opinionators to hold forth.  Point of view is cheap.  I would never expect to be paid there when the other 5,999 are not.  However, the journalism pieces I have done in the past year seem to me as good as anything HuffPost’s paid reporters Sam Stein and Ryan Grim produce.  Why do they get money, and I do not?  I don’t recall either of them writing the story about Barack Obama waxing large on “clinging to guns and religion,” which seems more and more as time goes by to be the one big story out of the last presidential election to live on.  Or at least it is the one that journalists and pundits are quoting regularly now.

So anyway here is my email exchange with Roy.  He has always seemed to be a good man, and he is nice in his emails, so I do not think he will mind, even though I am going to use them to make a few points about what Arianna & Co. do not seem to understand, although, of course maybe they just don’t think I’m a good enough reporter to be worthy of paying.

On Thu, Sep 23, 2010 at 3:37 PM, Mayhill Fowler ‪<junehill@aol.com>‬ wrote:

Dear Arianna and Roy,

Just to give you a heads up that I think today was my last post for you. Without pay and some editorial support and a reportorial community for belonging, I find it increasingly hard to find anything worthwhile to say.

Sorry that I never got a chance to meet you, Roy. My best to you, Arianna.


Sent from my iPad

From: Roy Sekoff

To: Mayhill Fowler

Cc: Arianna Huffington

Date: Fri, Sep 24, 2010 5:11 am

Mayhill — I’m sorry to hear that you don’t feel like continuing to be part of the HuffPost mix.  We’ve always appreciated your contributions to the group blog.

As we have transitioned from OffTheBus to our current Eyes and Ears initiative, we have indeed tried to build a community around citizen journalism — both between our editors and the citizen journalists, and among the journalists themselves.  Our Eyes and Ears editors hold daily conference calls with small groups of citizen reporters who are helping cover specific races in the 2010 election.  During these calls, the journalists run their pitches by our E&E editors, get feedback and pointers, and are also able to discuss problems, questions, comments, etc with the other journalists on the call.

In the days since OffTheBus, you obviously have transitioned into one of our top line bloggers.  With over 6,000 bloggers and 300 blog posts published a day, we tend to have less editorial back and forth with our group bloggers (although I know we always try to be responsive and I have personally maintained relationships with many who have been with us since “the old days”!).

I’m not sure where your interests are these days.  It has seemed more “big picture” than in-the-trenches coverage of specific races (the focus of our Eyes&Ears 2010 initiative), but if you would like to do some 2010 coverage or be part of the Eyes and Ears 2010 team, I’d love to put you in touch with the team of editors who are spearheading that effort.

In any case, the door is always open.  We enjoy  having you on HuffPost.

All the best,


On Fri, Sep 24, 2010 at 9:50 AM, Mayhill Fowler ‪<junehill@aol.com>‬ wrote:


Thank you for the reply. I appreciate your taking the time. I realize that the Huffington Post does not pay bloggers, but I have reached a point where I need more for my work. I’m not only an opinionator; I have this last year gone out and done actual reportage. I’m no longer going to do that for free. I’ve paid my dues in the citizen journalism department; I’m a journalist now.

So if you can’t find a place for me doing some kind of paid reporting, it’s goodbye. In the end, you know, it’s not so much about the money itself as the dignity it confers.

Best, Mayhill

Sent from my iPhone

From: Roy Sekoff

To: Mayhill Fowler junehill@aol.com

Cc: Arianna Huffington

Date: Fri, Sep 24, 2010 10:13 am

We completely understand and wish you all the best.  Roy

The dignity pay confers upon work.  I think this about sums it up.  So let this be a warning to you, citizen journalism enthusiasts.  In the end, what you are doing really is enhancing somebody else’s bottom line.  And think for a minute what it means when you throw yourself into working for a place, as I did, without first walking into the company’s human resources office to sign some paperwork that legally binds you and your employee to a relationship.  In my book Notes from a Clueless Journalist, which not too many have read (I may have been a bit ahead of the curve on publishing only for Kindle and cell phone), I go into the consequences here in a much darker way.   I’m not going to repeat any of that now, because in some sense what happened to me post-Bittergate and the way in which The Huffington Post did not have my back was a unique situation.  Although, now that I think about it, the scenario would make a movie:  citizen journalist gets a great story, but the poohbahs for whom she is writing don’t know her from Eve and can’t decide, first, whether to believe her or not, and then, second, as things get complicated whether, because of conflicting loyalties, to support her.  It is very much a story about class and hierarchy and relationship, about bias and trust and instinct—and maybe only a Tom Wolfe could write it.

Anyway, before I get sidetracked on Bittergate, let me move on to what I meant by support and community in my email to Arianna and Roy.  On a practical level, these are equally important, but I don’t think Roy understood me.  Maybe I should have tried to explain more, although it does seem to me that resignation emails should be pithy.  Here is the thing.  It is very hard to go out and do original reporting without some kind of backup, without knowing where you fit into the news site’s overall strategy for covering a specific topic, say the upcoming November elections.  I have always felt I was flying blind by not knowing what the paid reporters at HuffPost were investigating at the moment, because a reporter doesn’t want to duplicate a colleague’s work but contribute a different piece to the overall picture the news site is trying to construct.  Without some structure, chaos reigns.  In Clueless Journalist, I give some instances I experienced.

As for community, I have found that it is just too lonely to be out there on one’s own, without the interaction (even if it is of the prickly variety) and camaraderie that a workplace provides.  In my book, I call it “the terrifying loneliness of the road.”  And this comment comes from a woman who has always regarded herself as a loner, by the way.  Therefore, I don’t know what Roy means in his email by “the group blog.”  It’s as if he were referring to a book club or a loose affiliation of weekend bicyclists.  But I don’t know 99.9% of the other Huffington Post bloggers from Adam.  I have nothing in common with Larry David or John Kerry.  There is much more than six degrees of separation among us, and yet we all have posted at HuffPost.  I cannot think of any way in which the other bloggers and I make up “community,” with all that entails:  interaction, support, acquaintanceship in some fashion (even if only online).  As for Arianna herself, she is frequently in the Bay Area (as she will be this weekend for a book party), but she never invites me to any of her events—and I would bet that she does not others in the so-called “group” either.

Don’t get me wrong.  Arianna has many wonderful qualities.  I especially admire her wit and her continual reinvention of herself, in that classic American (especially immigrant American) way.  But she is also the quintessential opportunist.  And I cannot help but feel that, at the end of the day, as I thought I was proving myself to her to be worthy of journalism, she on her part was milking me for everything she could get before letting me go.  I’m surprised to find I have so few hard feelings.  Maybe it’s because media is a dog eat dog world.  I was taken aback in 2008 to discover the extent to which this is true.  But I also discovered, rather late in life, I admit, that journalism is the work I love.   Indeed I was born to do it.  (A story for another day.  Perhaps.)

Readers, here is something for you to ponder.  The Huffington Post just took on Howard Fineman, a fine political pundit and maybe one of the last to leave the sinking ship Newsweek.  I predict he will stay about a year.  Maybe two.  He doesn’t want Newsweek to be the last thing on his resume.  He needs some “street cred” in new media.  Then he will go on to a university lectureship (Princeton, perhaps) or a think tank or a foundation in order to round out a prestigious career.  Likely both Fineman and Huffington are under no illusions about the hire.  But here’s the thing from my point of view.  So Fineman is getting a six-figure salary.  Deserved.  But why is there not a quarter of that for me?  Below are the pitches I made to Arianna this past year, which she said she did not have the money to fund.  Below that are links to the original reportage, at my own expense, I did for HuffPost this year.  Read.  Then let me know—no holds barred—if you think I have proved myself worthy of remuneration.

1. I pitched Arianna and Roy on covering what was happening in Afghanistan from a civilian perspective.   I had heard some intriguing things from the coterie of military bloggers I know now—observations that they toss off as asides, because, drawn to the romance of conflict, they have not found them worthy of reportage.  I thought what was going on in Kabul and in the Clinton/Obama “civilian corps” would interest readers.  I wanted to cover the increased media outreach effort (often paying local outlets) from the State Department to citizens of Afghanistan and Pakistan.  I wanted to cover the new civilian corps, composed mostly of my generation, the first in the Peace Corps, who are now willing to give their lives (as indeed they have) to build better infrastructure for people they don’t know half way across the world.

2. I pitched Arianna and Roy on covering the Tea Party Convention in Nashville.  When they turned me down, I ended up posting on my own blog here.  Since so few people read it, I determined to make a bigger effort to stay with HuffPost.  I thought that I could make the  “numbers of eyeballs” at HuffPost enough reason to stay.  At least, I can say I gave it a try.  An ironic twist to the Nashville experience, was that at Saturday midnight the manager and the security head for the Gaylord Opryland Hotel came to me to complain that two young people (“on drugs”—well, who knows?) claiming to be from The Huffington Post had tried to get into the Sarah Palin dinner speech event before running away from the guards.  I had known that the way Eyes & Ears (the new HuffPost citizen journalism effort) had encouraged people via Twitter to cover the event (which anybody could have known would have very tight security) was a really bad idea.  But now I had to deal with the consequences?  If I needed any reminder, here was yet another how attached my name was to The Huffington Post.

3. I pitched Arianna on covering whatever it is that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is up to.  Partly because of media budget cutbacks, but also because the reporters assigned to the State Department are a less-than-entrepreneurial lot, this story is not being told.  I offered to split the costs.  I was willing to move to Washington, D.C. to get this story and commute home one weekend a month, because I thought the story was and is important.  Because travel on trips abroad is expensive, I told Arianna and she and I together would determine what few trips I would make.  I wanted $2500 a month, with the understanding that after six months we would review whether or not we would go forward, and with the commitment on my part to train a younger person to take my place down the road.  (I said this because I am sure that Obama will have second term.)

Now check out a link or two to some of my original reporting for The Huffington Post in 2010.  I’m not even including the opinion pieces, even though I am one of only a handful of national pundits who totally get Barack Obama.  Then let me know if sending me off with “their best” was such a wise move for HuffPost.









Okay, so like all writers, looking over these pieces, I am not satisfied with my work.  But maybe I’m worth a tenth of Howard Fineman?

Update:  A note about Zennie Abraham.  I’m not sure who he is, but he is trying to capitalize on “Why I Left” with a number of untruths.  We have never met.  We spoke on the phone for 30 seconds in September 2007 when Amanda Michel, OfftheBus editor, thought we might link up at an Obama rally.  It never happened.  Abraham and I never spoke once about either Obama or politics in general.  Post-Bittergate, he wrote otherwise.  To say that I am “an enemy of the Obama Campaign” is a hoot.  Then and now, we have always had a good relationship.

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127 Responses to “Why I Left The Huffington Post”

  1. i noticed – all of my replies are now disappearing – incredible – so much for her “new” style of journalism – ugh – as a working journalist, this is all obscene.

  2. “as a working journalist, this is all obscene.”

    It’s a train wreck. We can’t resist it.

  3. I’ve been posting notes on facebook for the past 3 years. They’ve been mostly diary style posts, but lately, I’ve been writing news stories about my city. When I contacted Facebook to be paid, they refused. What gives? I’m a journalist now

  4. Sounds like you did a lot of good work for them and you’re a thoughtful and talented journalist. But you also sound like a terrible business person. You gave them a product for free, and got them used to getting it for free. Now you think they’re going to start paying you for it? Unless you’re selling crack, I don’t see how that business model is going to work.

    And really, this is a business. They make money. They just don’t want to share any of it with you. Maybe it’s short-sighted of them, but I’m not sure why you thought people are going to warm up to the idea of paying you for something you willingly gave away for so long.

    On the other hand, you made a name for yourself and have a nice resume you can use to try and apply your talents to a job. I think that’s better than trying to apply a job to your talents, which is a little silly because there was no job there and you weren’t in a position to create one. But I think that was valuable for you, so you got something, at least.

  5. […] “Senza paga e senza alcun supporto editoriale non vedo altra soluzione se non quella di lasciare… ritengo di essere una giornalista e come tale essere riconosciuta.. non è tanto una questione di denaro, quanto di dignità professionale”, spiega la giornalista sul suo blog. […]

  6. I wonder how people can read the HP?

    It is laid out poorly. The stories are hysterical, badly edited, written in 15 minutes. Trashy, tabloid, celebrity worshiping. It simply exists to exploit slave writers who feel exalted because they share space with “real names”.

    Congratulations to Ariana Huffington. She has parlayed her wealth into even greater wealth and fame which allows her to travel by limo and Lear Jet around the world and expound her views on what is wrong with America.

    She is no different from any of the other whores who populate our media and political landscape.

  7. “If I had wanted to “profit” from Bittergate, I could have done so. I could have hired an agent, a PR person; I could have gone on cable TV and talk radio. I did none of those things. I am not Joe the Plumber.”
    You did none of those things, you returned to blogging for tips.
    If PR or underpaid blogging is is your idea of how to profit from reporting on the campaign trail, then you really haven’t made the jump from blogging to journalism.

  8. A. Huffington steals from the poor to give to the rich (herself).

    I love it when I see her being invited to almost each and every Journalism conference there is. (Biggest laugh: she recently appeared on one on “ethics in Journalism”!)

    As long as the journalism world lets her kleep getting away with her theft, she deserves to prosper. Why pay for it when you can setal it?

  9. @Joe the Nerd Ferraro said: “FWIW, I have tried moving to other sites and find myself at the bottom rung of the ladder again competing with “I just washed my dog and he has ticks” stories or smug editors who degrade religion (the politics and religion relationship is one of the veins I like to mine).”

    Joe, you are finding yourself at the bottom rung again because no one will take you seriously as a professional journalist if you give your work away for free.

    It *might* be different for Mayhill because she has a name, but then again it might not be.

  10. Dear Mahill: I am sorry that you have to go through such a hard time. I found Arianna not only to be an opportunistic but, I also think that Arianna is a slave rider. According to NEWSWEEK August 2nd issue, that this year her revenue amounts to 30 million dollars. The book sales, the speeches, ads on the internet are going out of the roof. Thanks to the Obama administration that for the first time that a web site has been awarded to have a seat at the Whit House Press table. According to Vanity Fair of October 2010, that Arianna Huffigton is selected #42 of the Vanity Fair 100 people. The article states that she has 70 paid reporters and editors. According Neilson, HuffPo’s web site attracts 13 million unique visitors a month. I am very happy for her success but, what I do not like is hypocrisy in talking about the middle class while she is oppressing the middle class people who are working under her and while making millions of dollars of profits at the expense of their hard work. However, I heard Sam Stein that he is underpaid. I did not doubt it. Most of all, what is sad is as great writer as he is, he is being censored by the control freak Arianna. Bill Press the author of Toxic Talk stated that Glen Beck sets the agendas for the GOP. On the left, Arinana weakened the progressive support for the democrats by setting up the agendas that drive the lefties to ultra left to a point of no return. The difference between Gen Beck and Arianna is that Beck pushed his docile supporters all the way to right using religion and fear but, he made sure that the Tea partiers will go out vote for the Republicans. In Arianna’s case she pushed the progressive or democrats all the way to the left and she managed to disfranchise the left and demoralize the from voting. She and Dylan Rattigan Nader’s supporter, an MSNBC anchor now their whole show is that how people are so afraid and especially, on her column dated September 26, 2010 has stated wrote how she sympathizes with Tea Baggers fear. She referred to them as Dear Tae parteiers…. It is ironic that according NYT March 16, 2010 article that the majority of Tea baggers are middle to upper class people, older crowed with higher education. Of course, then we have the confused and the jobless crowed that they are taking advantage of their vulnerability. As Marx referred them the lumpuns or as we referred the astro turf group who are purchased by the interest groups on the Right like the Koch brothers, insurance industries, or the Dick Armies. If you guys recall that Arianna called for the resignation of Vice President Bidden on CNN, MSNBC and on her web site for the president and Bidden having a difference of views in the troop level in Afghanistan. She has raped the minds of the youth power who has been motivated by Obama’s election by turning them against their self interest. They are the one who got Pell grant, low interest school loans now, $10,000 for going to school. Now, 30% of the uninsured youth out of the total uninsured population or 14 million youth between 19 and 26 will be able to be covered under the parent’s healthcare. There is about 2 billion dollars that is put forward for research development in the health care bill. There fore, the youth should be getting out and vote for its interest than reading the demoralizing message of Arianna’s page. Her constant critique and attack at the Obama administration and the democrats has obviously, hurt not only the leadership but, the middle class movement.
    Even yesterday on Rachel Maddow that she said that the Democrats are incompetent and they have failed- unfortunately she was unchallenged. She seemed to lack commonsense. The fact is that in the absence of a lobbying reform, without the 60 votes majority and with a total lack of cooperation from the GOP that it is, difficult to pass any complex legislation. 97% of the time, the GOP filibustered the legislations proposed by the Democrats. The lie and the deception carried by 90% of the media controlled by conservatives is one of the major problems. Arianna constant attack of the democratic leadership enabled her to play a major part in disfranchising of the progressive supporters. If we lose for the Republicans, a multi millionaire like her still will remain to be multi millionaire while, the middle class will continue to suffer and disappear with high speed. The GOP will privatize SS, cut Medicare, cut education, pollute the environment, continue the war, contract American businesses and continue to send our jobs to the China and India, will place anti immigrant laws in place, will repeal of health care reform and financial reform, wage anti gay agenda, the expansion of Neo conservative agenda and the taking over of our democracy by the power of the corporation. Obama and most of the Democrats are the one who stand for the middle class. Let us not forget that the economy is a cycle. After al those business who are seating on 1.8 trillion cash balance will not disinvest forever. Yes, there is economic uncertainty but, those with the cash are trying to buy time by waiting for the Republicans friends take the house so, that they will repeal the financial regulation that is passed. Well their lobbyists spent 300 million already to kill the financial reform but, they failed. It is a meaningful bill but, thank God that we have Elizabeth Warren who will be such an asset to bring more change especially, in the consumer protection area. However, if we control both houses, there is nothing that they can do but, to take a risk. And I believe that some form of New Deal will be in place if we control the house that will give a boost the economy to create jobs in the short term and in the long term. However, we must work hard to win this election. We should be able to tune out Ariana’s bus tour to sell her books and continue to derail the progressive support for the Democratic Party.

    For anyone who is confused about her political stand while she was conservative but, now, in during the Bush that she was a proponent supporter of Ralph Nader, the utopian who received thousands of dollars from the RNC to run against Al Gore. The reason that Bush was in the office for eight years was due to erotic so called independents or liberals who voted for Ralph Nader, the spoiler. You might say that she voted for Obama so what? Even the dogs and the birds voted for Obama. Obama is not the almighty & he can’t turn things around and bring fundamental change in 22 months. . The democratic administration has achieved healthcare reform, financial reform, Education Reform – and many more to come with refinement in the policies that have passed already. She has no conscious now; she is talking about the Middle class who is suffering due to eight years of Bush administration of course thirty years of deregulation and Reaganomics. Therefore, people should be aware of her divisive intentions. She is not a democrat and she is discouraging people from voting for the democrats only to handle the power to the Republicans because there is no chance that a third party will win in this election. Mahill- do not worry you will find a great job. Good luck

  11. […] Mayhill Fowler, who gave The Huffington Post one of its biggest-ever scoops in 2008 as a reporter for the Off the Bus citizen-journalism project, wrote a kiss-off post on her […]

  12. You have run into the problem that plagues every creative person.

    If I give you money for your work, I’ll have less.

  13. Thanks for your response. See, with that info, I would pass on calling you a journalist, too. You have no experience! It’s also very reckless for anyone to refer to you as such. If you don’t know the nuts and bolts — and are left to figure them out for yourself with no help from an editor — then how can you want to be seen on the same level as people with experience? Yes, you’ve done good work, but in journalism, a track record is key, in my opinion. I still work at a newspaper, and I know a lot of people just starting out and who feel they should get raises and promotions because they did one really good story. It wouldn’t fly in any other field, and it shouldn’t fly here. But it does, which is why journalism is struggling right now. I don’t have an issue with you wanting to get paid, I guess. I just cannot abide with you calling yourself a journalist.

  14. Very nice site! is it yours too

  15. I am doing research for my college thesis, thanks for your brilliant points, now I am acting on a sudden impulse.

    – Laura

  16. Best wishes. I think you made the right decision. I only stumbled on this page because I was doing research into how much money Huffington earns annually for use in an article about what a rip-off unpaid internships are.

    For those saying that you can’t quit if you never officially worked for them, I say they are wrong. Huffington Post is using unpaid “interns” at this point to research and WRITE.

    Unpaid work that isn’t charitable should be outlawed in my view. But alas, Arianna has set up a “charity fund” now. More excuses for not paying people decent money.

  17. Hello!, I am visiting your site yet again to see more of your updates. I found this really interesting and felt compelled to comment a little thank you for all your effort. Please continue the great work your doing!

  18. The well written summary assited me very much! Bookmarked your website, very excellent categories everywhere that I see here! I really appreciate the info, thanks.

  19. This is very interesting. I actually enjoy your writing style and your word choice more than anything Smile

  20. Yours is a fascinating story, at least to me, and it confirms a lot of what I thought originally about the concept of “citizen journalism.”

    Mayhill, I gather that you started blogging along with a few thousand others on HuffPo as a labor of love. You were better than the vast majority, and you started breaking news that got picked up elsewhere.

    That’s when you should’ve started looking for a paying gig at a real journalism site, even if it was your local weekly paper. The truth of the matter is that you don’t have professional journalism experience, and yes, as you’ve found out, it DOES matter.

    From what I’ve read, you do have what it takes to be a professional journalist, but you started out working for free. Why are you surprised that HuffPo, who thought they were doing YOU a favor by giving you an outlet, still thinks your contributions are worth what they paid for them? That is, the big goose egg.

    There’s no doubt that HuffPo has made a huge amount of money from people like you; rather, I should say from only a few people like you on HuffPo who produce your caliber of writing.

    Did you really think they were going to pay you to go to DC and cover Hillary Clinton or the State Dept? Why would they? You were doing this for FREE. You have no professional journalism credentials. If they wanted to cover Hillary, and they had to pay someone to do it, they’d hire a professional. God knows, we’re all over the place, and many of my colleagues are out of work and looking for paying jobs.

    Did you expect some kind of loyalty from HuffPo? Well, they’re willing to let you write for FREE, just like you’ve always done. What do you think changed? Why should they pay you now, when you were willing all along to work for nothing? To them, you are what you’ve always been – an unpaid content producer. You may be much better than 99 percent of “citizen journalists”, but if you leave, hell, there will be some other CJ who will pop up, write as well as you, maybe not be as good a reporter as you, but whatever they produce, it will be FREE for Huffpo, and add to their bottom line.

    Of course it may not be as good as what you’d do, but if the difference is between FREE content, and me having to pay someone who is marginally (or even more than marginally) BETTER, why would I give you a dime? I can always find someone else who will fill your seat, and if I have to pay, I may as well pay someone with a resume in journalism.

    You didn’t get taken. Your part of the agreement with HuffPo was to provide free content on a national site. Their part was to give you an outlet.

    I’m not sure if you discovered this yet, but doing good journalism is WORK. Hard, demanding WORK. Blogging for fun isn’t work. It’s an avocation, it’s a hobby.

    HuffPo may backpat and flatter you, but that doesn’t pay the bills. If you thought that “citizen journalism” was somehow going to morph into PAYMENT, well, you got your answer. And the answer you got is the same one 99.9 percent of “citizen journalists” will get.

    HuffPo is a BUSINESS. Ariana Huffington might have more money than God, and she may “reinvent” herself – first, a conservative, then a divorce from an outted gay husband, and now she’s a born-again leftist – but didn’t you know what she was all along? Well, aside from a hypocrite, she’s a businesswoman. She’s a USER. She names a website after hersef, stirs up all the free content she can find from people willing to do it for free, and she gets the credit and makes the money.

    HuffPo advertises for paid editors on professional journalism sites. She doesn’t advertise on her site for paid journalists. She KNOWS where to find them when she needs them. And she only does that when she has to.

    It’s a BUSINESS. You may be very good, but you’re still an amateur, and that’s not my opinion. If HuffPo valued your contributions and considered you to be a professiona, they would have PAID you to keep you there.

    You are one more free content filler, and when you go, there are a hundred more waiting to fill your place, people who are willing to work for enthusiastic emails and back-patting phone calls.

    I don’t work for FREE. EVER. I demand to be paid for what I do. I’m a professional. Professionals get PAID. Ask Adriana. Does she run HuffPo for free? Does she make money from it? Does it fill her narcissistic need for fame to have HER NAME (or rather, her ex-husband’s last name) on a political site?

    Oh, I should say I do write on occasion for no pay, but it is when I choose to do it, for something I believe in, or something I enjoy. But I never expect to be paid for it. It’s a freebie I provide because it’s what I want to do.

    You just learned a hard, bitter lesson, one that most of your fellow “citizen journalists” haven’t. But they may still see this as a fun thing, a way to blow off political steam, a hobby. Even the ones who think they’re suddenly “professional” because they wrote something that got picked up by other sites are only fooling themselves.

    If no one is willing to PAY you for what you do, you aren’t a professional. Period.

    That’s why I laugh when some “citizen journalists” cry that they can’t get press credentials. No shit!

    Mayhill, you might be able to transition to being a paid professional yet. But you’re going to be competing with all the non “citizen journalists” out there, who are out of work.

    Good luck.

    Mayhill in reply: If you are the Katy Lake who writes reviews on Amazon, I’m not quite sure where you are coming from here. And I’m asking, why is that we live in such a culture of condescension now?

    In answer to a few of your points. First of all, I now have more professional experience than any number of journalists had when they started. Not all go to journalism school, I have learned. Secondly, I did not proffer Arianna a sweeping pitch on covering the State Department. I was circumspect. I said, here is this one little story, it will take me six months to get it, we can share the expenses. It can be a trial effort. And initially Arianna was enthusiastic, sending me out to come up with a detailed plan. In the end, she said she couldn’t afford it. Ditto my other pitches. If she had just said in the beginning that Huff Post would never hire me as a freelancer, I would have been fine with that and understood. But she led me on for almost two years.

    What my experience shows is not that Arianna is a narcissist or any other of the less-than-attractive things of which you are accusing her. She simply is not interested in journalism per se. She would rather start a new vertical on divorce than expand her coverage of politics. That’s fine. Huff Post is now the kind of raucous public square that many people like to frequent. But I saw something in Arianna that led me to believe she was willing and able to take Huff Post reporting to a higher level. I never agreed with those in the business (and believe me I have heard from many) who say that Huff Post reporting is poor.

    Finally, here is some advice from a woman who has been writing for many years. Avoid hyperbole. “Citizen journalists cry when they can’t get press credentials?” I have never heard one cry. Avoid sweeping statements on a subject of which you are ignorant. The Huffington Post does not send out “enthusiastic emails and back-patting phone calls.” And never presume to tell someone you have never met and never seen in the workplace how hard she or he WORKS.

  21. Well, Mayhill, you sure got an “enthusiastic email” when Ariana told you to come up with a plan she ultimately refused to help finance because she, a millionaire, couldn’t afford it. Or maybe you got an “enthusiastic phone call.” Sorry I didn’t cover all the contingencies.

    Okay, Ariana isn’t a narcissist. She’s just a millionaire who can’t afford to share a few thousand in expenses with the unpaid help.

    I am sorry you think I was being condescending. It wasn’t intended; maybe you’re confusing me with other people who have riled you. I’ve read some of your articles, and you’re a very good writer. Very good op/ed pieces.

    I was impressed enough to call a friend who does hire freelancers, and ask him to look at your work. I think you SHOULD be paid.

    I’m not a snob about how someone comes to journalism, but I am about professionalism. I think it’s perfectly possible for a well educated person to become a journalist without ever going to J-school. In fact, a more well rounded person with a diverse educational background is probably much better at reporting than someone who has never had their nose out of the J-school trough.

    The snark thing, though, bothers me. If someone sends you a private email and you post it, that’s unprofessional. If someone gives you an email address, and while you don’t post it, you make an effort to point out the private affiliation that’s apparent in the email, that’s unprofessional, as well as childish. Snark keeps you an amateur.

    I’m sure you’re quite beaten up by the professionals who have let you know in subtle and not so subtle ways that you aren’t quite up to snuff. I’m sorry for that. I do think you are.

    But you have to swallow an awful lot to be a journalist. If you can’t take it, you’re climbing the walls of the wrong profession. There’s no place for petulance in this field.

    Good luck to you.

    Mayhill in reply: As I said in the comment thread several times, I regret posting Roy’s emails. I did redact his and Arianna’s email addresses, so I don’t know what you are talking about re email addresses. I have never in my life given out an email address. (Had that happen to me, when one Zennie put mine out on the internet post-Bittergate, and subsequently I got death threats via email.) I used Roy’s and my email exchange as a way to show, succinctly, that my relationship with Huff Post was not the typical one. I know just how much attention 5,500 of the bloggers get. Zero. I did this because I knew that Huff Post would come back, as indeed they did via Mario Ruiz, and mis-represent our history. However, I should have given using Roy’s emails further thought, because my choice presented Mario reason (good reason) for snark. Also, as I said earlier in the comment thread, I think now that on some level posting Roy’s emails was payback for Huff Post’s putting what I thought was an in-house memorandum into “The Huffington Post Complete Guide to Blogging” without my permission, which I never would have given because I am not all that keen on blogging per se. That old creeped-out feeling comes over me again just thinking about the day I opened the book to discover that I am in it. Despite and because of everything good and bad that has happened between us, I like Roy Sekoff and would never have printed anything that would diminish him.

    Just figured something out. You are referring to your own email address. I had not noticed it. FYI I always google commenters to whom I am thinking of replying. Googling “Katy Lake” turns up many lakes–no surprise there–and a woman who writes reviews for Amazon.com. You are quite prominent on Google. Your work is not a secret.

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