Blogging: Not a Sweatshop


The New York Times, apparently, has recently discovered that some people blog as a career. Even worse, the stress of blogging is killing us: they adduce as evidence the recent (and tragic) deaths of Russell Shaw and Marc Orchant, and closer to home for us, Om Malik’s heart attack. Reading the article in the Times, you’d think that tech blogging in particular is one of the most dangerous things you could pick for an occupation.

Fortunately, I’m here to say that the Times’ view of blogging – and by extension all web work – is as silly as it is one-dimensional. Never mind that the overall death rate in the USA is about 825 per 100,000 (meaning that in a population of 1,000 bloggers we’d expect to lose 8 every year). Never mind that some bloggers at high-profile sites are being exploited, or are into a sort of geek machismo “I can work harder than you” lifestyle. If they’d just bothered to read WWD, they would realize that plenty of us in the digital trenches are able to successfully work on the web without overdoing it.

It’s certainly possible to overdo in the blogging world – but that’s true of just about any occupation, from management to software development to, well, you name it. It’s also possible to find a level of web work that allows you to have a life, with children and pets and regular meals and vacations. Of course, the folks who find a balance aren’t sensational enough to write news stories about. From my point of view, though, the real news is in the ever-increasing number of people who manage to work on the web without feeling that their lives are remarkable.

Perhaps the Times should have consulted the WWD archives and talked to some lower-stress bloggers before publishing their story. But then, how would they keep their page views up? I’m looking forward to the day when the major media starts publishing balanced stories about blogging and other forms of web work, instead of continually treating us as a freak show. Of course, as Marc Andreessen reminds us, future headlines could be worse.

Feel free to share your own success stories of web work without undue stress.



Jeff Yablon

What we all have ignored up to here in this post’s comment stream is a broader issue that I believe (nearly) everybody will agree with: there’s no such thing as objective journalism any more.

Let that wash over you for a moment.

About 10 years ago the producer of my then-radio/internet program The Computer Answer Guy said “the only journalists left in the world are the guys on The Weather Channel“. And sadly, it’s since come to a point where even THEY editorialize.

So the Times has an axe to grind. Or an opinion. Or something. So does WWD, eh? So do we all.

Yes, the Times deserved to be called on the carpet for that article, and I saw Andreessen’s post and as always he made his point well; it WAS insipid. And Judi, I agree with you; had they slanted it differently they would have made what I opined yesterday was the point.

So the real question seems to be: when do we move from reporting to editorializing?

And on we go . . .

Jeff Yablon
President & CEO
Virtual VIP

Judi Sohn

Vaibhav, It may appear that it’s happening in droves, but I don’t know if that’s the case. I would venture that most are doing it like those of us who write for WWD are…part-time or working for multiple sites at the same time.

Charles C Stirk Jr

JOHN GRUBER at daring fire ball had a nice take on the above as well ..

Marc Andreessen on the NYT’s ‘Blogging Will Kill You’ Story ★
There’s nothing to say about such a goofy, insipid article other than to mock it. My grandfather was a coal miner. That was a hard, stressful, dangerous job.

Judi Sohn

Jeff, then *that* should have been their story…about the “Digg culture” and its impact on news/tech blogs.

Instead, the message was, “work this hard and you might die.” Or more accurately, “Don’t even think of trying this from home…leave journalism to the professionals who do it for words on paper.”

If they were looking for balance, they would have included pieces of their interview with Larry Dignan, or the viewpoint of any number of pro-bloggers who find ways to live healthy lifestyles.

Jeff Yablon

Mike, I understand your frustration with the Times article, and I confess that as I was reading it I was thinking it was a bit sensationalistic.

That said, they weren’t wrong. Have you seen the way Diggs and other such measurements of popularity have beeb trending down over the last 6 months to a year? Simultaneously with them going lower, compenation based on higher trends in those arenas has become more and more prevalent. That EQUALS “work harder and faster and with any luck you’ll be able to make a living”. And not a huge one.

Like I said, it WAS overblown. But it was also correct. Chillax, man.

Jeff Yablon
President& CEO
Virtual VIP

Charles C Stirk Jr

I think this is the classic not seeing the trees for the forest ..

When it comes to Web 2.0 I get a general lack of grasp with so much of the old guard media …

This focus on the 1% and ignoring the majority .. I initialy thought this was a referance to an earlier article in the nytimes

For most of us blogs are like business cards at this point most important bit about blogs is that you have one & the contact info correct .

In the last year initial client contact is via email primarily through the blog & other Web 2.0 .. I have not had initial client contact via phone in over nine months .

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