The Huffington Post is running a campaign through journalism crowdfunding site Beacon to raise $40,000 to pay a reporter in Ferguson. They're calling it the Ferguson Fellowship, and their first Fellow is a citizen reporter named Mariah Stewart. According to the Beacon page:
With your support, Mariah will learn the intricacies of public records requests. She’ll use those skills to investigate the funding sources and uses of military gear in St. Louis County, follow efforts to reform police procedures aimed at curbing abuse and monitor the ongoing activity of local police and their unfolding relationship with the local community. To enable this, we’re aiming to crowdfund at least $40,000 for 12 months of coverage plus benefits. After the first year, we’ll continue the fellowship if interest remains.
OK. But on May 7th, New York Times reporter Leslie Kaufman reported on Huffington Post owner AOL's bad first quarter. How bad was it? The first quarter was so bad that AOL didn't even make ten million dollars in profits! Kaufman writes, "AOL said that its profit dropped to $9.3 million, or 11 cents a share, from $25.9 million a year earlier." I mean, it's not a loss or anything, but that's fifteen million dollars in profit that AOL didn't make! Do you know how much that hurts? AOL's market cap is currently well over three billion dollars. BILLION.
The Huffington Post is exploiting a young aspiring journalist, and hiding their exploitation behind a feel-good, faux-charitable campaign. Forty thousand dollars is nothing to AOL. Last year, the CEO of AOL took a nearly fifty percent pay cut. After the cut, his salary was still six and a half million dollars. Arianna Huffington reportedly earned $21 million when she sold the Huffington Post to AOL. If having a reporter on the ground in Ferguson matters so much to them, surely they could scrape together the cash by themselves? For years, the Huffington Post has been under fire for blithely aggregating content from reporters who actually do work. Now they've asking you to foot the bill for journalism, and disguising their greed as charity. This is fucking disgusting.