Alex Massie

Death by Blogging?

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This article in the New York Times is, I suppose, unintentionally hilarious. No-one should be surprised if it prompts calls for regulation.

Growing numbers 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 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 upfront investment. At the same time, some are starting to wonder if something has gone very wrong. In the past few months, two among their ranks have died suddenly.

Two weeks ago in North Lauderdale, Fla., a funeral was held for Russell Shaw, a prolific blogger on technology subjects who died at 60 of a heart attack. In December, another technology blogger, Marc Orchant, died at 50 of a massive coronary. A third, Om Malik, 41, survived a heart attack in December.

Any story that uses the phrase "some are starting to wonder" can usually be considered bunk. Equally, it does rather have to be said that it's exceedingly unfortunate poor Mr Malik survived his heart attack. It used to be thought that any "trend" story required three examples to be considered even pseudo-valid. Perhaps this time-honoured convention has been devalued in the modern age and now two examples and a near-miss are considered sufficient. Such is the way in which industry standards are debased. Can it be any wonder that newspapers are in trouble?

Still, this is mournful stuff:

To be sure, there is no official diagnosis of death by blogging, and the premature demise of two people obviously does not qualify as an epidemic. There is also no certainty that the stress of the work contributed to their deaths. But friends and family of the deceased, and fellow information workers, say those deaths have them thinking about the dangers of their work style.

I sympathise with the hack charged with producing this guff and like to think that this premise-destroying paragraph was written in an effort to make his editors look daft. I hope so anyway.

Written byAlex Massie

Alex Massie is Scotland Editor of The Spectator. He also writes a column for The Times and is a regular contributor to the Scottish Daily Mail, The Scotsman and other publications.

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