Ariana Huffington asked for free help from a seasoned journalist. You won’t believe what happened next!

August 26, 2015 • 1:00 pm

Well, yes you will; this is predictable, and I’m just mocking PuffHo’s clickbait.

All of us who think that writing skills should be remunerated despise the Huffington Post, for it pays nothing to most of its bloggers, counting on their desire for “air time” and name exposure. HuffPo gets the advertising money, and it doesn’t give squat to most people who write for them.

That’s simply exploitation. And that’s why I’ve always refused to write for that rapacious organ. If Ariana Huffington is supposed to be a caring liberal, why does she impose no-wage-slavery on her writers?

Anyway, reader Matt informed me that Ariana, needing help on a book, had one of her minions write for advice to journalist/author Lauren Lipton. The full story is at the media website., but I’ll reproduce the exchange here:


Subject: Inquiry from Arianna Huffington’s office:

Hi Lauren,
I’m David, a Research Editor from Arianna Huffington’s office. Arianna is currently working on a book about the importance of sleep in our lives. In our research, we came across your piece on hotel beds.arianna In that article, you mentioned that: “According to a 2014 Gallup survey, more than half of guests who stay in the highest-priced properties said they would pay more for an improved bed. Among all respondents, a comfortable bed was most often named as the most important feature of a hotel room”.

We were wondering if you have access to the Gallup research you mentioned in the article? We would like to cite it in Arianna’s book.

Thank you!



Hi, David:

I know you’re just doing your job. So what I am about to say has nothing at all to do with you. It is solely for your boss, and I do hope you pass it along to her.
I have worked my entire career as a professional journalist. I have a masters degree in journalism from the USC Annenberg School and developed my skills as a staff writer for the Los Angeles Times, the Wall Street Journal and other A-list newspapers and magazines. These days you can find my byline in the New York Times, the WSJ, Allure and Town & Country, as well as numerous additional print and online publications.

I am very, very good at what I do.

Unfortunately, your boss’s predatory business practices have deeply undercut the ability of all reporters, writers and editors to make any kind of living wage. The rapacious Ms. Huffington seems to believe that journalism skills are worth nothing, and that my beleaguered colleagues and I should be thrilled to help her make hundreds of millions of dollars in return for “exposure.”

If Ms. Huffington would like to know how I uncovered that particular statistic, she is free to hire me and pay me for my time and expertise.

If she doesn’t wish to do so, she is welcome to track it down herself.


That’s right on the money. I hold PuffHo largely responsible for debasing journalism and impoverishing writers in the U.S., and it’s now extending its sticky grasp to other lands as well. Good for Lipton to tell Ariana exactly what she needs to hear!

Sadly, I’m sure it will have no effect. And there’s no chance that poor and desperate writers will boycott her thieving website. So we do know what will happen next. . .

30 thoughts on “Ariana Huffington asked for free help from a seasoned journalist. You won’t believe what happened next!

  1. I too find it reprehensible that the wealthy Ms Huffington exploits writers. A couple of my friends are professional writers and they get paid fairly for their work. It isn’t easy writing well and talented writers should be at a premium.

    Also, who wouldn’t pay for a writer who uses such fabulous syntax as “rapacious organ”? And we get it for free!! We are very lucky at WEIT. (Not sarcasm; we really are lucky!).

  2. The French satirical paper Le Canard Enchainé (the chained duck) has a rudimentary website that basically says: “We’re not on the internet, go buy the newspaper at the store.” They only show the cover of their newspaper.

  3. These are just estimates, but science has a similar, though not nearly disparate phenomena as what is happening in journalism.

    1 – 5% of all scientists think of the ideas
    10 – 20% of all scientist actually do the work (not necessarily the same who came up with the idea)
    >50% of most scientist get paid equivalently regardless of whether they came up with the idea and/or did the work

    Engineering firms, in my experience, are worse.

    Jobs requiring no education also have the highest percentage of people who do work, but they also have a significant risk of being fired if they did not do work.

    My thesis: journalism (like some of the arts and music) is turning into a kind of slavery, i.e., do it if you want, you are unlikely to get paid.

    1. “Engineering firms, in my experience, are worse.”

      Not in my experience.

      In the engineering teams I’ve worked on, the creation (ideas) part and the work part get spread over a huge number of people. There’s no one person who has “the idea” — mainly because the problems to be solved (in detail) are simply overwhelming for one person.

      And in engineering, there’s always a clear set of: Cost, schedule, (performance is usually more foggy and prone to “creep”). Anything that doesn’t pay or look to be paying gets lopped pretty quick (at a well managed company).

      There are definitely some “high-flier” engineers who are top producers of patents; but there’s been plenty of creativity (and hard work) to go around in the places I’ve worked.

      The patent thing often comes down largely to what work you are assigned to (some has much more scope for IP than others).

  4. Why not just buy the survey from Gallup? A cursory google indicates the figures are from a general survey so unlikely to be restricted sale.
    I guess the attitude about payments extends beyond the writers.

    1. That would require some actual work by Huffington (or more likely, her interns). She does not like to work. She want others to do things for her for free.

    2. Why not just buy the survey from Gallup?

      Only little people “buy” things. Real 1% people, like Ms Huffingpuffling, expect to be given things of value.

  5. Serves her right, and I’m glad someone called her out. Most writers aren’t in a position to turn the ‘Huffington Post’ down when it comes to a by-line. However, I hope none would have given her these stats.

  6. “The rapacious Ms. Huffington seems to believe that journalism skills are worth nothing”

    If true, this is apparently even more so for the readers of Huff-Po. Just as in politics, we don’t need better politicians, we need a better electorate; in media we don’t need better editors, we need a better audience.

  7. “…you won’t believe what happened next!”

    I see what you did there. Only this is one clickbait that I feel is worthy to click on.

  8. Not mention UffPo gives exposure and publicity to many really reprehensible people, some of whom write such crazy stuff they appear to be actually mentally ill, like the misogynist who thought that the government should hire women to date him, or Suzanne Venker, or numerous pathetic religion apologists.

  9. Its a good thing science isn’t this way when it comes to sharing data. We’d still be thinking the world is flat if it did.

  10. All of us who think that writing skills should be remunerated …

    Does that extend to commenters? You need an address to send the check, or will payment be in Bitcoins?

  11. If Ariana Huffington is supposed to be a caring liberal …

    I can still recall when our gal Ariana was a rock-ribbed conservative, trying to ride her hidebound, closeted husband all the way from California to the Georgetown set as wife of a US Senator.

    Guess those old bourgeois habits concerning the exploitation of labor die hard among those who own the means of production.

  12. Who reads the paper anymore i get it just for the coupons. I don’t think i’ve read the Huffington post what a bore.I get my fill reading from this website.

  13. There is a wider problem that the growth and development of the internet has encouraged consumers to expect stuff for free whether it is music, films or journalism. Many of us tend to moan when an article we wish to read is behind a pay-wall and huge numbers of people use peer-to-peer streaming services to obtain free music. This attitude devalues the artist/writer’s work and promotes the kind of attitude whereby Huffpo feels happy to demand writers provide copy free of charge.
    Huffpo is also an exemplar of another insidious trend which is the exploitation of young people’s need to get a start in various professions and consequent willingness to sign up to unpaid internships. Some internships are paid and involve a genuine effort on the part of the employer to provide a real learning experience to the intern that will give him/her a good grounding from which to launch him/herself into the profession but all too often there is no pay and the intern is simply used as a dogsbody to do work that would otherwise have to be paid for. As well as exploiting young people, unpaid internships also tilt the entry into prestige employment in favour of wealthy students who can afford to finance themselves (or whose parents can).

    Ultimately this something for nothing attitude is detrimental to society as a whole as talented people are deterred from entering creative industries.

    1. I don’t click behind paywalls online because there’s plenty of other stuff to read. Usually I just don’t care enough. And I try to spend less time online anyway.

      I make a point of buying actual CDs (so 20th-century!) from the musicians I like because I want them to keep making music. (I try to explain this to young people and sometimes get a blank stare.)

      Same thing with writers: I buy their books. I contribute to Sam Harris’s podcasts to help that float.

      I don’t really like the style of writing in the vast majority of newspapers and magazines. I’ve never liked it and I’ve only very rarely subscribed to them. I only subscribe currently to one, highly-specialized quarterly; and it’s written by practitioners.

  14. Oh, we know how things like this end. Some disgruntled writer writes a 35000 word manifesto (for free, probably) in his shitty day-hotel dive. He scrapes just enough together to procure a gun on the black market. He bides his time until his psyche cannot take it anymore. He discovers that his ex-boss at HuffPo is giving a speech at the local auditorium in two days. So our hero gets his GoPro ready, writes goodbye notes to the few loved ones who haven’t given up on his sorry ass, cleans his gun one last time, dons a complete black ensemble, and sets out to make amends for the reasons his writing career never took off.

    Hey, it could happen. If anyone wants me as a writer, they can reach me at 555-555-5555. I’ll write for food.

  15. As much as I despise Huffington’s no-wage-slavery, my experience writing about and interacting with journalists over the last ten years makes me think it’s equally likely that the reporter made up the statistic and is feigning righteous anger in order to hide the fact.

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