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Blogger Mayhill Fowler to Huffington Post: "Show me the money"

Former Huffington Post blogger Mayhill Fowler. (Thor Swift for The Washington Post)

You may not know her name, but you know the work of Mayhill Fowler, the blogger who scooped the pros twice during the 2008 presidential campaign: She quoted Barack Obama saying working-class voters "cling to guns or religion" and recorded Bill Clinton's tirade against Vanity Fair writer Todd Purdum -- stories she landed because neither man realized he was speaking to a "citizen journalist."

Now Fowler, 64, is rethinking the role of amateurs in the blogosphere. On Monday, she announced she's quitting the Huffington Post: "I have this last year gone out and done actual reportage. I'm no longer going to do that for free. I've paid my dues in the citizen journalism department; I'm a journalist now."

As an aspiring but unpublished writer, Fowler jumped at the chance to "cover" the Obama campaign in 2007 as an unpaid contributor to HuffPo's blog OffTheBus. She didn't consider herself a reporter, but she sold her car and borrowed money to hit the trail. She filed hundreds of posts -- but nothing else, frankly, that generated headlines. "After the election, I kind of thought Arianna would offer me a job -- and she didn't," Fowler told us. "My husband said, 'You don't fit the business model.'"

Over time, Fowler went from thinking of herself as one of the site's 6,000 "opinionators" to seeing herself as a professional worthy of being paid for reported articles -- just like staff reporters. She was turned down repeatedly, and finally had enough: "In the end, you know, it's not so much about the money itself as the dignity it confers."

The end was abrupt: "We completely understand and wish you all the best," answered HuffPo founding editor Roy Sekoff, who did not respond to requests for comment.

What next? A lively debate among all those unpaid bloggers, no doubt. Fowler said the reaction to her resignation has been "supportive. ...We'll see what happens."

By The Reliable Source  | September 28, 2010; 1:04 AM ET
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"Reportage"? No wonder she doesn't consider herself a "reporter." She can't get the word right.

And one is NOT a "citizen journalist" if one is hired by any media outlet. I do believe The Huffington Post counts as a media outlet.

Posted by: cfow1 | September 30, 2010 12:48 PM | Report abuse

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