Content|August 15, 2011| Author: Kim LaCapria|Tags: ,

Huffington Post Logo Contest Sparks Design Controversy

The Huffington Post’s business model has been good for some, and not so good for others- which makes it a controversial topic when compensation for content contributions is discussed.

There’s no question as to whether the model benefits some- Arianna Huffington, for instance, has profited quite well from the contributions of writers who are barely compensated or not at all paid for their writing. (Interestingly, Huffington is a vocal opponent of worker exploitation when it comes to, you know, other people making money off inadequately compensating workers.) Part of the problem is that in this relatively early stage of the game, a precedent is set that it’s acceptable to work for free with the hopes of maybe breaking into a paid position somewhere, sometime.

Earlier this month, the Huffington Post announced a design contest, soliciting entries from readers for a new logo for the Politics portion of the site. And in typical HuffPo fashion, the prize for the winner of the contest was the site’s undying appreciation and presumably a nice email. Graphic designers, who often struggle setting benchmarks for fair compensation, reacted with a predictable level of disdain in the comments, and Ric Grefe, director of the American Institute of Graphic Arts, chimed in with the commenters to set the site straight:

AIGA, the nation’s largest and oldest profession­al associatio­n for design, strongly discourage­s the practice of requesting that design work be produced and submitted
on a speculativ­e basis in order to be considered for acceptance on a project. The creative profession­als that read the Post expect more from you…

Requesting work for free demonstrat­es a lack of respect for the designer and the design process as well as the time of the profession­als who are asked to provide it. This approach, therefore, reflects on the integrity, practices and standards of the Huffington Post and AOL.

Ouch. It is worth noting that many writers have said the same about the Huffington Post’s practices in the past, protests which have largely fallen on deaf ears. In fact, the HuffPo updated the post after the initial controversy to say that “while AOL Huffington Post Media Group employs an in-house team of more than 30 talented designers, we felt this would be a lighthearted way to encourage HuffPost Politics users to express another side of their talents.”

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