I don't think the fact that they pay a (highly debate-ably) reasonable wage to writers, is a good reason for viewing their operation more favourably.
In my opinion, sites like this (and other crowd-sourcing sites) are effecting cultural change by exploiting the bad-times. Recession helps their models world well, because there are more skilled people around without jobs.
At the end of the day, I don't think the output that Demand Media creates makes the world a better place.
In mid-late 90s (for all non-google search engines) you had the problem of link stuffing. Now its SEO!
Wonder, if the success of Adwords, and lack of real competition, is holding back Google from innovating fast enough in search technology.
That's why we need some real competition in search. And fast. Will it come for Blekko, Bing or Facebook?
I'd imagine for a lot of keywords the demand media article your getting wouldn't be all that bad compared with alternatives available. The key is to rank higher quality sources above this kind of stuff where available. I'm sure average internet users are becoming smarter all the time about evaluating the Google results and the page they land on to decide if there is any value there.
But how does content specifically designed to answer a question, make more money showing contextual ads than it costs to produce the content in the first place? If the content is answering the query, what ads are users clicking after reading it?