There's a lot of flak flying around lately concerning an idea whose time (depending, of course, on who you ask) has come.
Someone has apparently decided that forming a union for bloggers -- no, seriously, an actual bloggers' union -- would be a really good idea (thanks to Captain Ed
for the link to this Denver Post article
In a move that might make some people scratch their heads, a loosely formed coalition of left-leaning bloggers are trying to band together to form a labor union they hope will help them receive health insurance, conduct collective bargaining or even set professional standards.
The effort is an extension of the blogosphere's growing power and presence, especially within the political realm, and for many, evokes memories of the early labor organization of freelance writers in the early 1980s.
Organizers hope a bloggers' labor group will not only showcase the growing professionalism of the Web-based writers, but also the importance of their roles in candidates' campaigns.
Now, as most of you already know, I am not by any means a professional blogger. This is just a hobby for me. I am not getting paid for this.
Thus, I cannot and will not comment on what constitutes "professionalism" as it applies to this activity. There's plenty of pros out there. Ask them about that.
But the first question that entered my head when I saw this was...who the hell thinks us blog-heads need a union? I mean, seriously....do we really have some kind of labor problem that needs addressing? Is there some desperate need for an workers' advocacy program that I'm missing?
Well, let's ask the people that want the union in the first place (emphasis mine)....
"I think people have just gotten to the point where people outside the blogosphere understand the value of what it is that we do on the progressive side," said Susie Madrak, the author of Suburban Guerilla blog, who is active in the union campaign. "And I think they feel a little more entitled to ask for something now."
Hmm....ask for what, exactly? I mean, I certainly don't pay myself well enough for this, but as I said, I ain't no pro. So it's not like I'm bucking for a bonus here.
"Bloggers are on our radar screen right now for approaching and recruiting into the union," said Gerry Colby, president of the National Writers Union, a local of the United Auto Workers. "We're trying to develop strategies to reach bloggers and encourage them to join."
Somebody help me here....when the hell did writers start standing in on assembly lines in Detroit?
Sitting at a panel titled "A Union for Bloggers: It's Time to Organize" at this week's YearlyKos Convention for bloggers in Chicago, [Kristen] Burgard said she'd welcome a chance to join a unionized blogging community.
"I sure would like to have that union bug on my Web site," said Burgard, a blogger who uses the moniker Bendy Girl.
Is it just me, or is there a pattern emerging here?
[Susie] Madrak hopes that regardless the form, the labor movement ultimately will help bloggers pay for medical bills. It's important, she said, because some bloggers can spend hours a day tethered to computers as they update their Web sites.
John Edwards...call your office. There's apparently a whole new set of sufferers that have yet to see the insides of a courtroom on
"Blogging is very intense—physically, mentally," she said. "You're constantly scanning for news. You're constantly trying to come up with information that you think will mobilize your readers. In the meantime, you're sitting at a computer and your ass is getting wider and your arm and neck and shoulder are wearing out because you're constantly using a mouse."
And I suppose getting out of the chair every once in a while to stretch or go for a walk is out of the question?
(For purposes of disclosure, my wife and I work in front of a computer for many hours a day, too. However, I would note that we both get up and take a break at least once every couple of hours or so. As should we all.)
And so, apparently, we are fools to not all be on board with joining an organization that can give us so many wonderful things.
Like these guys, for example...
"The reason I like blogging is that it's very anarchistic. I can do whatever I want whenever I want, and oh my God, you're not going to tell me what to do," said Curt Hopkins, the founder of the Committee to Protect Bloggers.
"The blogosphere is such a weird term and such a weird idea. It's anyone who wants to do it," Hopkins said. "There's absolutely no commonality there. How will they find a commonality to go on? I think it's doomed to failure on any sort of large scale."
Huh....he doesn't want to join an organization that won't let him do "whatever I want whenever I want". Seems logical to me.
Mark Noonan, an editor at Blogs for Bush and a senior writer at GOP Bloggers, said he worries that a blogger union would undermine the freewheeling nature of the blogosphere, regardless of its political composition.
"We just go out there and write what is on our mind, damn the critics," he said. "To make a union is to start to provide a firm structure for the blogosphere and that would merely make the blogosphere a junior-league (mainstream media). ... Get us a union and other 'professional' organizations and we'll start to be conformist and we'll start to be just another special interest."
Forgive me, friends, but I have to agree with these two gentlemen.
Those who don't like to hear opposing viewpoints have long sought for ways to control the rolling boil that amateur (and professional) Internet journalism has become. Frankly, in my humble opinion, all this talk of unionizing the Web smacks of just another attempt to shut down the voices of those of us who do not automatically agree with those who "know best".
I'm happy enough, thank you very much, to not be involved in the kind of group-think that gives us stuff like this
to look forward to.