After holding on to his website for many years, the creator of The Wire opened his site to share his online thoughts. In his introduction, Simon included a stern warning for all creators who write for free on the Internet. Check it out:
Anything that says content should be free makes it hard for all writers, everywhere. If at any point in the future, this site offers more than a compendium of old prose work and the odd comment or two on recent events — if it grows in purpose or improves in execution — I might try to toss up a small monthly charge in support of one of the 501c3 charities that I soon hope to list in the How To Help section. And yes, I know that doing so will lose a good many readers; but to me, anyway, the principle matters. A free internet is wonderful for democratized, unresearched commentary, and it works well as a library of sorts for content that no longer needs a defense of its copyright. But journalism, literature, film, music — these endeavors need people operating at the highest professional level and they need to make a living doing what they do. Copyright matters. Content costs.On a related note, Choire Sicha wrote a short essay this morning, wondering: “Who gamed a substantial number of professional news-gatherers into providing free content for Twitter?”
We recently approached the question from a different angle, asking our readers: When Should Writers Work for Free?