Last year, I got cheesed (it happens) about the widespread publishing practice of not paying interns for time spent doing what anyone paying attention would call “real work”.
The publishing business has yet to take up the cause.
So, I shouldn’t be surprised that the folks at Aol decided that Patch, its beyond-fledgling effort to bolster community journalism, was going to adopt the HuffPo model of not paying contributors.
This isn’t a knee-jerk reaction against HuffPo. There was always an explicit understanding that its contributors were trading compensation for access to a much wider audience.
But Patch… Seriously? It’s a web site wholly dedicated to local journalism. There’s no significant traffic there.
More than that: communities don’t need new forums for building reputations. That’s why they have school board meetings. They need quality reporting.
If Aol is just providing a platform and expecting that I’ll contribute content for free, I think I’d rather build a multi-user blog using open-source and free tools. I may not sell a lot of advertising, but it doesn’t take much to beat getting paid nothing.