Fighting Fake News: HuffPost Ends Contributor Program

HuffPost Editor-In-Chief Lydia Polgreen announced Friday that the publication will be eliminating their popular unpaid contributor’s program and establishing two new sections, HuffPost Opinion and Personal.

In the announcement, Polgreen reflected on how shifts in modern media influenced the decision to end the program.

“The platform, which launched in May 2005, was a revolutionary idea at the time: give a megaphone to lots of people ― some famous, some completely unknown ― to tell their stories,” wrote Polgreen.

According to the New York Post, in an email to past contributors, HuffPost said that it has had over 100,000 contributors since 2005. While most contributors were relatively unknown, over the years HuffPost has had several notable writers such as Barack Obama and Jennifer Aniston.  

Polgreen argued that because of the expansive network of public writing platforms available in 2018, it has become easier for false information to spread; therefore, HuffPost’s own open platform must end.

“Now, there are many places where people can share and exchange ideas,” wrote Polgreen. “Open platforms that once seemed radically democratizing now threaten, with the tsunami of false information we all face daily, to undermine democracy. When everyone has a megaphone, no one can be heard.”

Reaction to Polgreen’s decision was divided. While the HuffPost provided its contributors a larger platform, none received compensation, though the contributors made up 10-15 percent of the site’s traffic. TechCrunch noted that, “critics believed that the process of running unpaid posts was optimized for traffic and clicks above all else.”

Contributor Shira Weiss tried to submit her article Thursday night only to realize that the program had ended.

“I had worked long and hard and promised my interview subject that the article would run that night on Huffington Post,” Weiss said in an email. “We were not given any notice save for an email which went out that morning – which I personally never received.”

Weiss discussed the situation further on her personal blog, where she will be writing from now on.

However, going forward anyone has the option to pitch stories to the new Opinion and Personal sections, where all contributions will be paid.

Of the two new sections, Polgreen wrote, “Our hope is that by listening carefully through all the noise, we can find the voices that need to be heard and elevate them for all of you.”

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