I agree with both views. I offer what I write free on this blog; what I’m writing for Exploits of a Midnight Traveler is also free — but no one is being paid for it.
In the case of Huffington Post, however, the site is valued at 53 million dollars. It makes money off the advertising that it sells on every post it puts.
Telling people that it can’t pay them is silly. Saying that it is free publicity and exposure… that’s offensive. Will it offer beads and rags too?
When someone is making profit from your work, you should be paid for it too. PERIOD. A restaurant doesn’t give away food in return for word of mouth (unless you’re a published food critic); a non-Olympic athlete won’t play for a team solely out of love for their sport; why, then, is it OK for an artist to work for free?
I write RPG products to make money. My novels will sell on Amazon. I’ll give away a story to help to build up my email list… I don’t write these things without a purpose to benefit to myself.
Free exposure is not it.