How far blogging has come #7: Bloggers’ unionsTechcrunch writes about an initiative reported in the Wall Street Journal about a group of left-wing bloggers who are trying to form a union in the hope that they are able to force their New Media paymasters to provide health insurance, adhere to professional standards and most importantly, create a body with aggregated bargaining power.
1. Opponents of this move will say that we should leave pay and benefits to the markets to decide, which presumable takes into account demand, supply and the quality of supply. 95% of professional blogosphere is a grey market, with each player using the economics of cheap web space to run millions of basically rewritten posts, supported by Google adsense.
It is obvious what the focus of blog owners/blog network owners is: make adsense money on the side with help of rewriting inputs from bloggers who presumably moonlight at it.
2. I do not know how long will the rewritten blogosphere go. Maybe forever but even that doesn’t warrant government intervention into what is for all purposes a cottage, mom and pop, geek-and-pundit kind of business. You regulate one blog and the owner shuts it down and starts another blog. The same goes for a blog network – damn, this splogging business is so easy.
Nothing more enlightening can be said about blogging/splogging outfits in India and China. I will put it simply- many of my friends depend on these rewriting factories to make a living.
Besides, enforcing regulations across borders is a difficult task.
3. In many ways, all this New Media talk is sheer nonsense. New Media bosses are no different from Old Media bosses. While there will be some honest folks who don’t find sharing the spoils fairly, and I have yet to come across one, most operators are out to make a quick – keep most ad money to themselves, thinking one blogger goes, there are thousands to fill his space, and some are building swanky houses from VC money
4. Many owners tout revenue sharing policies and unions can do little when supply of bloggers is more than the demand. Duncan Reilly says,
...many smaller networks tended to favor a revenue sharing model that rewards popular topics over effort. They do so whilst the network operators keep the majority of profits for themselves.
5. Among the remaining 5% of the professional blogosphere, there are few Conrad Blacks. David Krug of Telegraphik writes,
While some bloggers in networks are making pennies per the hour the network CEO’s and support staff are raking in huge salaries and getting VC Money to help furnish their homes. I don’t like it. It smells funny.
But these are too few and they don’t make a case for wholesale blogger unionizing.
I don’t know how much bloggers at prominent blog networks Weblogsinc, Gawker, Techcrunch make but I sure do hope the bosses pay the bloggers well enough to set a benchmark for other owners, most importantly setting an informal yardstick ratio of salaries and revenue.