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Posted by on Aug 6, 2007 in Media | 5 comments

Some Bloggers Want To Form A Bloggers’ Labor Union

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In a way, you just knew this had to happen:

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.

“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.”

How likely is this to happen? There will likely be some people who would jump at a chance to form a union. After all, these are associations that offer benefits such as health insurance to the self-employed. But as as this AP story notes, “what that something is” that people feel “entitled” to ask for is hard to say:

In a world as diverse, vocal and unwieldy as the blogosphere, there’s no consensus about what type of organization is needed and who should be included. Some argue for a free-standing association for activist bloggers while others suggest a guild open to any blogger—from knitting fans to video gamers—that could be created within established labor groups.

Others see a blogger coalition as a way to find health insurance discounts, fight for press credentials or even establish guidelines for dealing with advertising and presenting data on page views.

“It would raise the professionalism,” said Leslie Robinson, a writer at ColoradoConfidential.com. “Maybe we could get more jobs, bona fide jobs.”

But a weblog is merely a “calling card.”

It might mean some extra consideration from an editor or client who wants to hire someone for a job, a client who wants to use a blogger’s expertise, or an op-ed editor considering buying a piece. It’s a credential. But belonging to a bloggers’ union won’t carry much clout because as much as bloggers and campaign operatives who need friendly bloggers love bloggers, the world is not automatically impressed by bloggers.

It’s hard to imagine an editor or potential writing client saying: “Whoa! A member of a BLOGGERS’ UNION. That must have been hard to get into!”

Also: anything that sets standards will unleash a wasps’ nest of posts that will include many negative ones. The whole point about blogging is that no one tells you what to do on your own blog — except readers who will not read your site since if there isn’t some kind of reader/writer bonding and common-sense standards, a blog can be visited once and never visited again.

The AP story notes that there are also some who discount this idea:

“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.”

About 11 percent of American Internet users have created Web pages or blogs for others while eight percent have created their own online journals or Weblogs, according to the Pew Internet & American Life Project.

With pages focused on everything from bird watching to celebrity footwear, more than 120,000 blogs are created every day and more than 58,000 new posts are made each hour, according to data from Technorati, which tracks more than 94 million blogs worldwide.

Hey, you guys: do you wanna exchange links?

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