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should bloggers be paid?

22 Apr
should bloggers be paid?

Some recent news may today change the face of the Information of the web. It concerns the problem of the remunaration of bloggers on information website.

The facts:

In April 2011, a group of several bloggers sued the well-known Huffington Post, an information website combining the works of paid writers and journalists, and unpaid bloggers.

The reason? In January 2011, Arianna Huffington, the owner of the website, sold it to AOL, for the modest amount of $315m. The thousand bloggers, on the other hand, didn’t receive a penny. Claiming they contribute to the success and value of the site, they sued Arianna Huffington and the Huffington Post, demanding $105m.

Before asking ourselves the justification of these actions, let’s observe another case: a French blogger, Hugues Serraf, recently leaved the information website rue89, on the basis that he wasn’t paid as much as he wanted, although he “produced as much content as regular journalists from the platform, and generated as much audience”, as he says on his blog.

The only gratification he was offered by the direction of rue89, continued Hugues Serraf, was of €200 per months, quite less than for a usual paper (“pige”), paid €100 each.

In both cases, bloggers are complaining against the treatment that is made of them, and demand a better qualification of their work.

Are these demands justified?

The question that is asked here concerns the legality of the websites, accused of profiting from the work of others without any remuneration. But the issue is more complex than that. At first, the unpaid contribution of bloggers to these sites is completely voluntary. The agreement between the two parts is made freely, and bloggers are often happy to see their contents on famous websites. This is indeed the justification of these sites: in compensation for their contribution, bloggers are offered “visibility”, a way to get known and to obtain readers. Money was never the purpose in these exchanges.

In the case of Hugues Serraf, the blog that was seen in Rue89 already existed before it was published in the content of the site. We could therefore say that bloggers have nothing to lose publishing content on a website, on the contrary, they can only win visibility. Some bloggers can even earn money and see their careers upgraded thanks to their blog. We can mention the example of Garance Doré, a French Blogger specialized in photography and drawings, who became a well-known fashion photograph thanks to the reputation of her blog.

Except when this work approaches the tasks of many journalists.

Laurent Mauriac, one of the three co-founder of rue89, says in an interview realized by the French information website arretsurimages.net, that there is a difference between journalists, who create information, and bloggers, whose role is mainly to comment the actuality and give a personnal opinion. But, as he continue, the two positions seems more and more difficult to distinguish, between bloggers paid because they are considered as creating information, unpaid bloggers, journalists paid for each paper they make and full-time journalists, paid monthly.

Moreover, readers often do not distinguish themselves between journalists and bloggers, who can even sometimes be more famous than paid journalists, as was the case for Hugues Serraf or Camille (owner of Rue69) on Rue89.

Should the status of bloggers be legalized?

Where can the distinction be made between workers, professionals and volunteers? As Benoit Raphael says in his article “Faut-il payer les blogueurs?”, the prosperity of an information platform also comes from the diversity of its contents, which implies having both journalists and bloggers. Moreover, it is impossible for a small enterprise as Rue89 to pay all the contents that are on its website. But as soon as the work of bloggers is comparable to the work of paid journalists, there must be a contribution somewhat. In this case, the action of the Huffington Post bloggers is justified, in the sense that it raises an important question.

edit 15h54: here is a very interesting comment from an internet user on arretsurimages:

“En fait, le problème est relativement simple: les médias en ligne cherchent à gagner des sous, la presse à ne pas trop en perdre (pour l’audiovisuel, je ne dirai rien, je connais moins bien) donc tout ce qu’ils peuvent gratter comme contenus librement mis à leur disposition, ils le gratteront. Ils rémunèrent aussi, soyons honnêtes, des équipes fixes.

Pour que les choses soient claires, il faudrait simplement respecter quelques règles établies au départ: une rémunération obligatoire pour tous les contenus sollicités (“Hey, M. Machin-le-blogger, tu voudrais pas nous pondre un post sur la vie des moules ?” “Bien sûr, mais ça fera 90 euros HT du feuillet”), une rémunération forfaitaire obligatoire pour tous les gens avec lesquels on a un contrat (fut-il oral) du type: “tu t’engages à nous fournir tant de “papiers” sur ce que tu veux, tou(te)s les mois/semaines etc…” Ce statut ne poserait pas de problème particulier: on peut rémunérer au forfait ou à l’article, les correspondants locaux de Ouest-France (et des autres titres de PQR) ne sont quand même pas une invention récente. Leur qualité de non-journalistes mais de rédacteurs à part entière -certains très bons, certains très mauvais- est entérinée par une rémunération plus faible que celle des journalistes pro, mais affichée dès le départ.
cf aussi ce que pratique le Post, même si les tarifs sont forts bas -pour quelqu’un qui se casse à faire ses billets.

Enfin, les blogueurs restent les blogueurs, utilisateurs d’une plate-forme mise gratuitement à leur disposition, libre de leurs contenus dans le respect de la loi et non rémunérés… Libres aussi de monnayer leur blog via une régie pub, d’en faire un outil de promo de leurs autres activités etc.

Reste la zone grise […]: la reprise du post d’un blogueur dans le corps d’un site d’info. Pour l’instant on ne peut compter que sur la négociation: “vous voulez mettre en avant ce que j’ai écrit sur mon blog, ça fera tant d’euros, sinon je ne donne pas mon accord”. On pourrait imaginer qu’un site d’information vraiment réglo fixe une grille de gratifications pour les billets qu’il reprend: pour 1500 signes repris dans notre flux, on vous file 50 euros etc. Mais, en l’état actuel de l’économie de la presse, en ligne ou pas, je ne pense pas que cette démarche se mette en place…

J-net”

As a whole, the solution would therefore be to establish a clear and detailed chart of the remuneration (or not) of bloggers, depending on the subject of the paper (asked by the website or not), its lentgh and interest for the platform.

sources
arretsurimages.net (paying access)
rue89.com
http://frenchweb.fr/faut-il-payer-les-blogueurs-par-benoit-raphael/
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Posted by on April 22, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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