A series of disciplinary actions against editors and writers rocked Huffington Post last week, leaving disgruntled employees and a website chief defending Arianna Huffington’s actions.
In one case, Huffington punished editors for an article accusing CNN’s Fareed Zakaria of plagiarism, leaving employees claiming that she is just lashing out at employees who upset her friends.
Insiders have leaked their displeasure with management’s decisions to deal out suspensions to several employees and for putting at least one story on hold for what HuffPo bosses say are violations of good journalistic practices.
In one case, a story criticizing the financial dealings between The Dalai Lama Center for Peace and Education and activewear company Lululemon resulted in short suspensions for a reporter, an editor, and a copy editor, supposedly for not bothering to contact the Dalai Center for a comment before going live with the story.
In another case, a story examining charges of plagiarism by CNN’s Fareed Zakaria was published, also without giving Zakaria the opportunity to reply to the charges before publication.
Zakaria is particularly susceptible to such charges, because he’s been hit by them many times before. In August of 2012, Zakaria was even suspended by CNN and Time magazine when he admitted to charges of lifting passages from other publications. At that time, Zakaria admitted that some of the work that bears his name was copied from other sources without attribution. But the CNN analyst explained it all away, saying it was because some of the work presented as his own was actually written by interns and that they didn’t take enough care to cite sources.
Neither CNN nor Time left the writer on suspension for very long before they lifted his punishment and it was business as usual. Despite saying his suspension was “indefinite,” Zakaria was back at work about a week after his dual suspensions.
Finally, another HuffPo story–this one on heroin addiction–was put on hold because Huffington disagreed with assertions in the story that 12-step-style abstinence programs are an improper treatment for addiction to the drug.
Ariana Huffintgon dismisses criticism of her actions by insisting that she is the editor-in-chief of the site and is merely performing her job.
But employees are telling outsiders that there are a lot of hard feelings against management.
The chief complaint from employees is that Huffington only started handing out punishments when her friends began complaining about the pieces in question.
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