“Blogger Blues”: A Funny Song or Too Close to Home?
My song started as a lark. A friend who hosts a weekly sing-along asked someone to write a Labor Day song about the service industry. Immediately, the song popped into my mind: “Blogger Blues” about the plight of unemployed journalists.
On the verge of (voluntary) retirement from journalism myself, I had plenty of time to develop a blues tune and work up the kind of lyrics associated with the drudgery of farming, mining, or factory work: “I’ll be a blogger ‘til I die.” I had always played the piano but in retirement I was taking up singing lessons with Charles Williams of the Selma Levine School of Music and singing in the Mosaic Harmony gospel choir.
When I performed my song at the sing-along, liked the lyrics: “I’ve got 10,000 friends on Facebook, I’m on Twitter night and day…but I can’t get no pay.” When I put it on YouTube in June, it really caught on with my journalist friends, but not only for the humor. “It’s very funny, but also very, very true, unfortunately,” wrote one.” They began passing it along to their friends.
I feel very fortunate, having started in the business with newspapers in 1963, then working my way through The Associated Press for 13 years, U.S. News & World Report for eight, Satellite Orbit magazine for five and the Kiplinger newsletters for 17. When I became editor of the Kiplinger California Letter (based in Washington, D.C.) in 2000, just about all of my California correspondents were working news people. By the time I retired in 2009, not one was. Several got government jobs, one went into p.r. and one became a full-time blogger. The same year that I decided to retire, the California Letter folded as well, though other Kiplinger Letters are doing OK.
One sad discovery of the Internet phenomenon is that many people are willing to do for free the same work we had been doing for years for pay. The only difference was we worked for people who owned printing presses, and we wrote what they wanted to say. Still, we were having so much fun, we should have realized others would do it without receiving money.
I thought it appropriate to post the song, “Blogger Blues: A Journalism Anthem for the 21st Century” to the Huffington Post Bloggers’ Union, where it will probably ring true.
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