This has been a running debate in the industry since the beginning. Writers have been fighting for respect, recognition and financial rewards since the beginning of the entertainment industry. They are the most necessary, yet least respected part of the business.
There hasn't been a book, article, TV show, film or play that has ever been produced that wasn't first the brain child of a writer. Yet, unless the producers, directors or publishers, are also writers, many of them have had a long history of taking a high handed view of those whose words and creative vision are the bases of their livelihood.
Harlon Ellison said it best in the following video:
To watch the video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mj5IV23g-fE
The problem lies in the fact that are so many people with varying degrees of talent that are willing to sell themselves short and undercut professional writers. Instead of improving their skills and asking for their financial due, they schlep through the industry, producing substandard work and giving all writers a bad name.
With the creation and expansion of the Internet, there is even a greater need for content; however, most sites pay little to none. Instead, they talk about exposure and publicity for the author without mentioning the fact that the site owner makes a profit from the advertisers. Without the work of the writers, there wouldn't be any interest in the site, therefore, no advertising profits.
As long as there are writers who are willing to work for $2-15.00 a 400 word article, there will be someone who is willing to take advantage of them. However, the work is just as good as the pay. It is easy to rip out 400 words. It takes more work to make the article professional, accurate and interesting.