Sunday, April 06, 2008

Death by Blogging

"In Web World of 24/7 Stress, Writers Blog Till They Drop" reads the headline in today's New York Times for a report on "digital sweatshops" that evoke images of a century ago that led to the rise of unions to protect exploited factory workers.

The documentation is scant, but the idea will nonetheless appeal to a population of writers with a congenital need to see and expose hidden evil forces in society:

"A growing work force of home-office laborers and entrepreneurs, armed with computers and smartphones and wired to the hilt, are toiling under great physical and emotional stress created by the around-the-clock Internet economy that demands a constant stream of news and comment.

"Of course, the bloggers can work elsewhere, and they profess a love of the nonstop action and perhaps the chance to create a global media outlet without a major up-front investment. At the same time, some are starting to wonder if something has gone very wrong. In the last few months, two among their ranks have died suddenly..."

The piece is a throwback to the Vance Packard school of journalism of half a century ago, when excitable writers strung together a few anecdotes and statistics to agitate readers with best-sellers such as "The Hidden Persuaders," "The Status Seekers" and "The Waste Makers."

The net effect, one publisher noted back then, was to alarm the public at the discovery that society is organized.

It would be heartless to minimize the stress that some full-time bloggers feel, but there is something odd about finding a dark side to what is a labor of love and a form of self-expression that was not available to previous generations.

Better pay and working hours for piecework bloggers, by all means, but MSM like the Times may want to concentrate on recognizing and honoring their efforts rather than drumming up sob stories about them.

1 comment:

GiromiDe said...

We're going to need bloggers in the coming decades as beat reporters will eventually be replaced by a few more scrolls on the cable news networks.