The bullets had scarcely stopped flying in Paris before the pressure was on. There were the profile pictures filtered with le Tricolore or changed to show the user on holiday in Paris; the memes with cartoons by Charlie Hebdo illustrator Joann Sfar or words by Martin Luther King Jr; the condemnations of religious fundamentalism and pleas for tolerance on behalf of the peaceful majority of the world’s Muslims. The counter narrative went hand-in-hand: what about Beirut, we were asked with varying degrees of sanctimoniousness, where Islamic State militants had killed 41 people the day before the Paris attacks?
This belief that online is ‘free’, that it doesn’t take anyone’s paid writing job away or stifle anyone’s voice – while unspoken and in most respects probably true – needs to be measured against the crisis of magazines and of formally-edited selections of content more generally.
Everyone except the most flagrantly freeloading of publications, it seems, agrees that something needs to be done about the parlous state of writers’ pay – but what, exactly?
Start with yourself, but don’t finish with yourself.
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