I find Jenna Fischer to be a charming and charismatic comedic performer. I've never aspired to any kind of an acting career, but I found her craft-based memoir, The Actor's Life: A Survival Guide to be a fun and interesting bit of realism about what it means to be an actor in the world of film and television. (I especially recommend the audiobook, which she reads herself.)
That said, yesterday Fischer screwed up on Twitter. Here's a screenshot:
Fischer was retweeting Biz Stone, the co-founder of Twitter, who said "Fake news is free. Real news is behind paywalls. Take down the paywalls during #coronavirus please." Fischer amplified that message by adding "Yes!! @latimes and @nytimes - Most stories on your sites I can’t read!!"
The most refreshing thing about the tweet was the replies, which were largely friendly reminders to Fischer that journalists should be paid for their work, and that a paywall protects the right of journalists to be paid.
Please bear in mind that virtually nobody was yelling at Fischer that she should be cancelled, nor do I believe they should have been more vitriolic. They were just reminding her that her seeming act of populist concern for the dissemination of information carried with it a very real price.
So far as internet dust-ups go, this is all very mild. I credit the calmness of the backlash with Fischer's online presence, which feels very authentic. But it's noteworthy because it reminds us that if you can afford it — if you're an actor who makes royalties from The Office, or if you're a tech bro who created Donald Trump's favorite social media platform — you should definitely pay for your journalism.
It's an easy thing to forget! Paywalls are obnoxious, and we are biologically driven to dislike barriers. But this is a model example of how to gently remind others when we forget about the very real human cost of writing.