The New York Times recently published a great article about the perils of the blogging sweatshops that have formed in the new reality of writing for the Internet. In a word, death. It seems a few tireless bloggers have suffered coronaries possibly caused by the incredible stress of being ‘on’ all the time, in order to do the job and get paid for it.

In the article, one blogger “says he sleeps about five hours a night and often does not have time to eat proper meals. But he does stay fueled — by regularly consuming a protein supplement mixed into coffee.”

For me, this article couldn’t have come at a more perfect time.

Over the last few days, with one of my main markets having temporarily dried up, I’ve been surfing for work. As usual, there are lots of places looking for writers willing to write for peanuts. One job, posted on a Canadian Craigslist page, offered $7.00 an hour to start. In the skewed reality of writing for the web, this might not seem so bad, when so many of the blogging jobs offer a measly $3.00 to $5.00 per 250 word post. Still, it contains an irony.

On March 31st, the minimum wage here in Ontario, Canada went up to $8.75.

Just imagine: the lucky writer who gets that job will be making less than the pre-teen at Tim Horton’s.

With this new industry developing online, I wonder a lot why our main associations for freelance writers seem to stay mainly fixated solely on all-rights grabs at print publications instead of addressing the reality of workers churning out hundreds of articles for measly pay.

And other writers seem to think this is primarily a personal decision of weighing priorities, but to me it’s way more than that. It’s an industry issue. If that server at Tim Horton’s died of a heart attack because of the stress of having to serve coffee 24/7 in order to make enough money to live, wouldn’t someone assess the situation?

Wouldn’t something change?