The Economics of the Huffington Post

In light of the Huff Po selling itself to AOL for $300million and change, their practice of not paying bloggers for their contributions has come under scrutiny.

In a tonally challenged piece (the relative seriousness of the piece is undermined by it sounding as if it were written for Videogum or The Awl), Jason Linkins, who is a Huff Po editor, attempts to shed light on how the site works.His basic argument is that the Huffington Post makes their money off of the news and they don’t need to pay bloggers because their content is exchanged for exposure. In otherwords, the commodity of content is rewarded not with financial returns, but with millions of people reading and sharing that content.

More succinctly, however, is Nate Silver’s analysis of the situation. “Although The Huffington Post does not pay those who volunteer to write blogs for it, this content represents only a small share of its traffic. And, to put it bluntly, many of those blog posts aren’t worth very much,” says Silver.  He reasons that an unpaid blog post only earns somewhere between $3 to $13 on revenue for the Huff Po.

Could the Huffington Post come up with a better revenue-sharing model, or would they just be better off being more honest with their unpaid bloggers — that yes, you can post to your hearts content, but there’s an equal chance no one will read your content as there is of it being read by millions.

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