Sunday, April 06, 2008


I'm not really questioning the basic premise of this New York Times article - that frequent blogging may lead to an unhealthy lifestyle. It's pretty obvious if you think about it. When you blog, you're sedentary. You don't want to take a lot of time away from the computer to cook or go grocery shopping, so you're probably eating junk food and crap. And because the Internet has made people accustomed to a 24-hour news cycle, anyone wanting to stay on top of all breaking stories in their area of specialty may be inclined to skip a few hours sleep each night. It's clearly not as active and healthful a career as being, say, a personal trainer, or high-priced call girl.

But I am questioning whether or not it's appropriate to turn the deaths of two bloggers and the illness of another into a fluffy trend piece like this, based on zero evidence that any of their assorted maladies had anything to do with their occupation. I mean, couldn't three middle-aged men suffering from health problems related to coronary disease within six months of one another be coincidental? A lot of middle-aged men have bum tickers, even ones who spend little to no time on the computer.

The headline on this piece is Bloggers Write Till They Drop. I'm sorry...this is just insensitive and inappropriate. There's no indication that these Marc Orchart or Russell Shaw died as a result of blogging, and even if they had, "drop" is not a polite way to describe someone's passing in a major newspaper. I didn't see "Heston Drops at 84" on any mastheads today. Plus, neither of the deceased bloggers were blogging at the time of their death; Shaw was sleeping!

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

Other bloggers complain of weight loss or gain, sleep disorders, exhaustion and other maladies born of the nonstop strain of producing for a news and information cycle that is as always-on as the Internet.

This whole thing strikes me as a really thin basis for a story (I mean, complaining about sleep disorders and weight gain is way different than Death By Blog). It kind of comes off as another subtle swipe by the mainstream media at blogs in general. (Especially all this "it's a young man's game" stuff, which may be true of certain kinds of blogging, but not all...There's plenty of middle aged political bloggers and they all seem to be feeling fine, and ace political blogger Steve Gilliard died young.)

So when will the NYT run a piece about how all journalists and hopeless out of shape alcoholics who either burn out by the time they're 40 or become puppets of a corrupt establishment?


Angela Penny said...

i agree blaming the deaths on blogging was quite the reach.

Joe Cox said...

good call. it was off color and surprise, surprise, lacking in any evidence showing that blogging had anything to do w/ their deaths.

Charlie Oliver said...

Agreed, and dependent upon how exactly you define a blogger the author of this very story should have his heart checked.

If Om Malik and Mike Arrington have health issues it is their problem, something they should be dealing with in their own way. This is not different at all from blaming games for the death of gamers, all a bit of rubbish if you ask me.

CajoleJuice said...

I'll just join in the agreeing. If Stephen King died from a heart attack tomorrow, I'm sure they wouldn't say that sitting around writing contributed to his death.

rednikki said...

I agree with you - however, I also think that there is a culture among some bloggers of the "traditional" male pursuits of red meat, bacon, and cigars (or just regular smoking), none of which are conducive to heart health. However, this isn't the only industry that has that kind of culture.

Jeff Hoard said...

You're bang on with the insensitive nature of the NYT piece, hardly a nice way to report about death "Blog till they Drop."

Otherwise most of the report was pretty accurate. Having lived the lifestyle of a Payperpost blogger for near a year it is far from stress free...But then again, if writing isnt stressing you out, your probably doing it wrong.

CajoleJuice said...

Seems I skipped over a key point of the article. Oh well. My example still stands!