Our Poor Bloggers Are Being Worked to the Bone

Let our journalists help you make sense of the noise: Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter and get a recap of news that matters.

The Washington Post is looking for a new Style blogger and says the winning candidate should expect to write a dozen posts a day. That’s led to a few raised eyebrows out in the blogosphere, but Ed Kilgore at Political Animal is just amused:

I can’t help but laugh—or maybe shudder—since 12 posts is the daily target at PA….But if this pace is now in danger of becoming the Gold Standard, even for “arts and living” bloggers, you know whom to blame: Brother Steve Benen, who started this madness and continues it to this day with consistent excellence. Anyone who thinks this level of volume necessarily produces a lot of inaccurate, superficial or sloppy content really hasn’t been paying attention to the Maddowblog, or to PA.

I feel like I have special standing to comment on this since I started Political Animal in 2004 and played a role in recruiting Steve Benen to replace me when I left. Steve, as we all know, is indeed a superhuman iron man who cranks out a dozen or more detailed political posts a day, a pace that’s apparently now the standard there.

I think it’s crazy. Steve managed to do it via heroic levels of diligence and self discipline, but also because he mostly does pure political blogging without too much in the way of policy analysis. But I think it’s a mistake to expect this from everyone. Even if you assume a longish workday, this pace still requires you to write a post every 45 minutes or so, and no matter how superhuman you are, there’s just no way to read widely, think carefully, do even minimal supplementary research, and then craft the necessary words in 45 minutes. Not a dozen times a day, anyway.

But then again, maybe I’m just an old fogey. The four-minute mile used to be considered laughably out of reach, but today there are probably hundreds of elite runners who can do it. Even granting that, though, I know that I’m still considered tolerably prolific, and I can’t do more than six to eight posts a day. It’s just impossible for most of us to really think when you’re writing any faster than that.

There are exceptions to every rule, of course, but I still say: slow down. Spending an hour or a little more on a small piece of policy analysis spiced up with a bit of snark is about the bare minimum we should expect. Any faster and the ratio of mistakes and dumb comments just gets too high. Enough’s enough.


Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

payment methods

We Recommend