It's a matter of supply and demand: When supply is high, the price is low.
Imagine a young person coming to you and actually wanting to sell his writing to make actual money. Let's say, not fiction, even, but articles and essays. Okay, stop laughing, now.
I'm going to stick my neck out. I have no statistics on this, just the impression I get from reading articles and books: Fifty years ago one had a much better chance of actually selling a piece of writing for money than one has now. And the Internet has got to be part of the reason.
Nowadays, everybody writes. Blog posts, on-line articles--words, words, words everywhere. An ocean of words, all available for, more or less, free. A writer may hope to make contacts that way (odious neologism--"networking") or perhaps to advertise his knowledge and abilities in such a way as to lead, very indirectly, to a job in some niche field. But most of us just write on the Internet because we like to write, enjoy the interaction, and have something we think worth saying. It costs us (once we find a kindly-disposed person or company that owns the web space) only our time (which didn't used to be thought of as so "only"), and we don't expect anything in return but attention and interest.
What does this mean for the craft of words, other than the aforesaid fact that the price has been driven down? It also means that quality suffers. Blog posts are written quickly, much more quickly than most articles for paper publication. Fortunately, one can make small corrections later to a post, but large corrections are supposed to be indicated by an update. Readers have come to expect quantity and speed, bloggers have other vocations or day jobs that constitute their real lives, and there just isn't time to polish.
In a way, this is all rather sad. One could argue that blog posts are the verbal equivalent of cheap physical merchandise.
But you won't hear me condemning the blogosphere. Instead, this is what you'll hear me saying: While we enjoy the advantages of the blogosphere--the readily available information, the freedom of the exchange of ideas, the development of friendships with people we would otherwise not know, the outlet for frustrated writers with something important to say--we must keep hold of the other thing, too--paper-style writing with its much slower timetable and its much higher expectations. If we lose paper-quality publication, that loss will be irreparable, and the Internet will be in no small part responsible for that loss.
But here, too, the Internet can actually help. Literal physical publication is much more expensive than electronic publication. If we can bring together the low cost of electronic publication with the high editorial, content, and production values of paper publication, we will have preserved something that must be preserved from the older world. And then the Internet will have done something very good, even for the craft of writing.
The trick is motivating truly good writers to write for that venue. In that vein, then, let me recommend both to readers and to writers The Christendom Review, which strives for what I have been talking about--paper quality at Internet prices.
If the human world is going to change, as it will do whether we like it or not, one of the best responses on our part is to use what is new in creative ways to preserve the best of the old.