HuffPost Travel, the newly launched travel vertical of the Huffington Post, recently ran into a blitz of criticism from professional travel writers.
In a wide-ranging interview with HuffPost Travel editor, Kate Auletta, writer Chris Gray Faust, of travel blog, Chris Around the World asked Auletta a series of questions near and dear to the hearts of travel bloggers and journalists everywhere: Are you accepting submissions from travel bloggers? What’s the application process and is there any compensation.
Auletta made it clear she was looking for “more voices,” saying ” the more voices the better…but there is no compensation for our writers, however.”
Many travel writers are accustomed to providing content for nothing, but only to high value sites, because they believe it will drive traffic to their own sites, and the exposure will generate paying gigs.
But then Auletta added that, relative to photography, she requires “the rights to absolutely everything.”
Things went from bad to worse when she said she did not allow HuffPost Travel writers to even take press trips, a position that seems now to be in flux.
Interestingly, she did not say HuffPost Travel required an exclusive or “first on,” leading several writers to say they’d publish to their own blog sites or paying sites first, then to Auletta’s
Nevertheless, the response to her comments was immediate and sharp.
One comment on Faust’s post said since Huffington Post was valued at 150 million dollars why couldn’t they pay their writers? And why require all rights to photographs, and not allow their writers to take press trips?
Another said, “I doubt Kate (Auletta) is working for free,” while another writer compared Auletta’s policy to that of house cleaners who “come and do my housework… bring their own cleaning equipment…will not be allowed to offer their cleaning services elsewhere. They will receive no compensation, and must pay for a taxi to get to my house rather than using subsidised public transport.”
Reportedly the Huffington Post gets about 40 million unique visitor’s a month, making the writers’ lament, “why would they want us to work for nothing?” that much more pointed.
The overall sense is that HuffPost Travel is a work in progress, and Auletta, who was lured away from the WSJ’s magazine, will rethink and reevaluate her policies, if not regarding compensation, then at least regarding rights and press rips, the back bone of most professional travel journalists.
Auletta’s favorite destination? Barbuda, sister island to Antigua. A good place to escape the frustrations of travel writers.