This article has been updated.
In the summer of 2019, Siddak Ahuja needed money to support his family, so he started writing for The Post Millennial. Ahuja said that after the outlet reduced his base pay from $20 Canadian dollars per article to just CA$5 per article, he left the outlet; the meager wage and lack of opportunity just “didn’t make sense,” he told Right Wing Watch.
According to three former writers for The Post Millennial, two who spoke to Right Wing Watch on the condition of anonymity, Ahuja’s experience with the outlet was not an abnormality. Now a source of rage bait for far-right audiences in the United States, the outlet was slow to pay its writers for their stories—if it ever paid at all, these freelancers said. The three writers told RWW that the outlet took a harder right-wing turn with the arrival of Andy Ngo, who was hired as an editor at large in the latter half of 2019.
Heading into the 2020 presidential election season, The Post Millennial made inroads with far-right U.S. audiences, publishing attacks on journalists and aligning itself with the far-right movement, issuing a torrent of inflammatory smears against LGBTQ equality, racial justice, and anti-fascism. The first installment in RWW’s investigative series into The Post Millennial revealed that the outlet intersected with the far-right early in its inception despite presenting itself as center-right, its writers repeatedly violated the site’s own stated ethics policies, and leadership at the site maintained murky ties to conservative political campaigns. Our second installment examined the outlet’s oddly close relationship with far-right collaborator and disinformer Jack Posobiec, whose false reporting the outlet has defended and on whose perceived enemies the site has published attacks.
A former writer for The Post Millennial said that the freelance writers—who produced what the outlet itself calls “a significant amount of the site’s content”—generally worked in isolation from one another, unaware that their frustrations with editorial decisions and payroll were broader problems experienced by others who worked with the company. They described The Post Millennial as operating “sort of like a mafia” in that the publication will attack those who voice criticism against its wrongdoings.
“They operate like a crime syndicate. They don’t operate like a normal paper where you can trace the money, you can trace the editorialization, where you can trace the ethics, where you can actually understand who is involved in the outlet at any given time and what their purpose is,” the former writer said, wishing to remain anonymous given the publication’s record of attack stories. “It doesn’t work like that. And in terms of opponents, they absolutely would just rather take somebody out than admit that they did something wrong.”
Another former freelance writer for The Post Millennial, who asked to remain anonymous for fear that current staff at the outlet would retaliate against her, said that she strove to approach hot-button topics at the site with a neutral writing tone and that senior editor “Barrett Wilson”—who operates under a pseudonym despite the site’s stated ethical guidelines about its staff being “forward with their identity”—was open to letting her do so until Ngo arrived. RWW attempted to reach ”Wilson” for comment via email but did not receive a response.
She recalled noticing a change in the tone of their pieces during editing shortly after Ngo joined the media outlet. RWW reviewed a Google Doc with track-editing intact that supported her characterization of Ngo’s editing contributions.
“Once Andy Ngo started, then it became much more editorial and much more like he was the one who set the tone and you had to write to his tone,” she said, speaking to RWW via Skype. “He would tell you to write a story on something, then you would write it, and he would go in and edit it to be crazy and extreme.”
“It feels like before they kind of had a mission more and kind of actually wanted to get some stories going and they were really into breaking news. They wanted to publish stuff that was new that no one was publishing,” she recalled. “Now it kind of seems like they’re just getting people to write stories on Twitter drama and taking some tweet from some crazy person and trying to make it like ‘the West has fallen.’”
The other former writer said that shortly after Ngo joined the organization, they noticed the editorial tone of the site shift drastically.
“I saw more and more of these articles being directed from Andy that were just almost his own Twitter drama,” the former writer said. “[The Post Millennial] was trying to write these articles constantly that were, as far as I’m concerned, they were no more than ‘Andy Ngo has a Twitter beef with someone.’ I saw and heard of his attempts to dox people in stories. Ngo wanted to publish personal information on Antifa in Portland the editors or writers had to scrub or just tell him they couldn’t publish the story.”
Ahuja also said it felt like something had shifted at The Post Millennial, speaking more broadly. His favorite thing to publish at the publication were his op-eds, some of which he described as “outright socialistic.” In the latter portion of his time writing for The Post Millennial, he said was no longer provided opportunities to publish his op-eds, which coincided with Ngo’s arrival on staff. Ahuja left shortly after that, after which he said “the publication shifted slightly further rightwards.”
“[The Post Millennial] used to be center-right & extremely open to freedom of speech & opinion amongst writers. I published several outright socialistic pieces. My time was helpful in that it made me value freedom of speech much more than I previously ever did,” Ahuja said via Twitter direct message. “Things seem to have rather changed.”
Ngo acknowledged a RWW inquiry via Twitter direct message and asked for a set of written questions, which RWW provided. He did not respond prior to publication. (UPDATE: Nearly a week after the publication of this article, The Post Millennial senior editor Libby Emmons sent Right Wing Watch an email stating that Ngo “has no involvement in The Post Millennial’s editorial policy, direction, or payment practices.” She did not address the observation by the writers to whom RWW talked that Ngo’s arrival at the publication was concurrent with a change in editorial tone.)
At the end of Ahuja’s time at The Post Millennial, he says his wage was cut to just CA$5 per article, and an additional CA$1 for every 1,000 views that his content received on the site. Typical news articles, he said, were pulling between 2,000 and 3,000 views on average, meaning that he was often making about CA$7 per story.
The writers who spoke to RWW about their experience with The Post Millennial described a work environment where site leadership expected writers to produce content for low wages and to maintain availability that one former writer described as being “on-call all the time.” The same writer recalled experiencing difficulties being paid for her work, for which The Post Millennial agreed to pay CA$50 per article, but ultimately never paid at all. The writer said she’d eventually given up on receiving payment. The other former writer who talked to RWW about their experience at the Canadian outlet said they were offered low wages, were paid irregularly and often took “giant reductions” on the pay they were owed to get The Post Millennial CEO Matthew Azrieli to agree to cut a check.
Azrieli did not respond to emailed requests for interviews, as he has failed to do throughout this investigative series.