The other week, I was having lunch with a friend. He knew that I wrote for the Huffington Post, and mentioned that there was an article on HuffPo that related in part to a family member, and it had a slight mistake. He'd tried to get them to fix it and had written a few times, but to no avail. He wanted to know if there was any way I could use my contacts to help.
After doing my best to unsuccessfully stifle a laugh out of politeness, I said no.
I explained to him what I'd written here. How ever since the buyout by AOL and most notably over the past two years, the Huffington Post has gotten far more corporate and distant. Very unresponsive to those writing for it, and far more commonly refusing to post articles without any explanation -- in fact, without any word that it's being rejected unless one follows up relentlessly. Most of the time, comparing notes with others, it has seemed that the reason is because articles have been too harsh and critical, odd as that sounds. (If you think I'm joking, on a private blogger pages, they give some tips on the kinds of articles that would be good, and one is "6 Summer Salads You'll Actually Crave.") Though one friend had an article refused whose topic was being kind to other people! No explanation was given.
I only wish the lunch conversation with my friend had been after this past week, and his question about help had been asked today. I could have added one more to list.
Once upon a time, a person could make corrections to their own Huffington Post articles. Sometimes factual errors, sometimes poor phrasing, most often typos. Given that every article now has to be approved before posting, I can understand not allowing a writer to go back in and change their piece, since they could change it to something that wouldn't have been approved in the first place. So...fine. But if they're going to take that responsibility, then one would think it's up to them to act upon it.
I posted my long article on IFA a couple weeks ago. After publishing it, however, I noticed an odd formatting glitch, where in two cases a couple of paragraphs got smudged together. It looked sloppy and read awkwardly, so I wrote in to explain where the issue was and how to fix it. It was about a 30-second repair.
It's not that after nine days of writing in every day (sometimes a couple times a day) that the problem hadn't been fixed, but they had yet to respond. Even when I asked if they've changed the policy and are now no longer correcting typos.
Honestly, I don't think the policy has been changed. It says if you need to make a change, write to the Blog Team. So, maybe...actually, I don't know. Perhaps they think the change is so minor it's just not worth the time. Fine (well, not "fine," but for the sake of argument, fine), but then at least have an auto-response that explains this. In the end, I think it's just willful laziness. Policy to not answer unimportant things, and they'll go away.
Finally, I got fed up and went around the Blog Team and up the ladder directly to one of the main editors I happen to have an email address for. It's not what I want to do on such a small matter, but eventually I wanted the glitch fixed. I send the IFA article to companies I deal with, so it was important that it look professional. (I'd think the Huffington Post would want that for themselves, too...) Anyway, it got fixed within minutes.
I like the Huffington Post. I think they do a lot of things extremely good. And some things very poorly. But I do know that they've changed a lot since being bought by AOL.
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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