6 Apr 2008 5:22 pm   //   Filed under: In the news, Media

I assure you I am not blogging myself to death

Sheesh. Check out the topic du jour: Death by blogging.

It begins today with Matt Richtel writing on the front of the New York Times: In Web World of 24/7 Stress, Writers Blog Till They Drop:

“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.”

The story describes three bloggers who have recently had heart attacks, two dying. It quotes several others discussing how hard blogging is on their physical and mental health.

A couple of quick thoughts.

First, the subject is not really blogging, but online journalism. Just like any kind of reporting, doing it right is difficult and stressful. I sometimes have unsettling dreams in which I have a big story ready to go, but my fingers gum up and I can’t type fast enough to write it. But the work is satisfying most of the time, and I think stress is OK when managed properly.

Second, cry me a river. You want a tough job, try being an emergency room surgeon, or slaughterhouse worker, or the guy who repairs downed power lines during ice storms, or a school teacher.

Third, I’m fortunate that the company for which I write does not evaluate me based on page views, or click-throughs, or any other dubious popularity metric. I worry this may change in the future. One thing about reporting is that it’s very hard to predict what kind of impact your work will have. Sometimes the stories you work hardest on and are proudest of get no traction, no feedback. Other stories you consider quickie throw-away pieces become more popular than you’d ever have predicted. I love getting hits, but I’ve learned not to look at traffic stats as an evaluation of how good my work was. As an example, Matt Richtel’s Times article is probably getting tons of hits – because it’s about blogging, not because it’s great reporting.