You can read this article for free. You get me, for no fee. It’s a sweet deal, and as Concrete’s a free student newspaper, it’s also a fair deal. Yet, profiting publications could charge you for this article and also refuse to pay me. Funny that.
The word ‘fair’ is swatted away the older you get and the more suits you own, as age excuses inadequacy. We’ve all been told that “life’s not fair.” “If you’re upset about something you should grow up and get over it.” But that passive, hopeless attitude sculpted an industry where writers are underpaid and undervalued.
An industry of rising paywalls without raising pay. Even in an unfair world – that’s too much. The discussion of unpaid writers has long surrounded the struggling artist cliche and perpetuated by said struggling artists, but really, this one is for the economists. They would tell you the way we operate as a society is not conducive to movement between social classes or tax brackets. Social mobility suffers at the hand of big business and in this instance, businesses big enough to pay for glossy covers but not their contributors. It’s convenient for writers’ pay to be viewed as – if they’re willing to give it away then what’s the problem?
The problem is, it reinforces the destructive culture we have of working more to get less, staying at desks over the weekend to get ahead and driving young minds into the ground before they even learn there’s another way. It means the same people get ahead at the same people’s expense. It makes social mobility a pipe dream.
Despite publications using paywalls, asking readers to pay for online content, the cashless cycle continues. While they profit off of contributors, offering money to cover costs is the very least they could do. It isn’t fair – it’s obvious. Writers provide a service and if they demand the service, they have to pay for it.
You can read this as many times as you want. Memorise it if you fancy. Print it off, stick it to your wall and read it aloud every night before you go to sleep. It’s my pleasure. But make the most of it, because when I make it to the paywall – it’s going to cost you.