While issue 63 of the quarterly review XXI returned to newsstands and bookstores on November 29, some of its collaborators are getting impatient. Especially those of the two previous issues, as well as the contributors to a special issue on offshore finance and to a special issue of 6 months on Lebanon. They never saw their pay arrive. The fault lies in very degraded finances, totaling up to 3 million euros in liabilities for 1.2 million in turnover in 2023, according to an internal source. The magazine, renowned for its long-term investigations and reports, ended up being placed in receivership on August 8, before being taken over by the Indigo Publications press group at the end of October. The family group offer who already edits The letter (formerly Letter A) – also owner of online media Africa Intelligence, Intelligence Online And Glitz. Paris – was the only one in the running.
If, with the recovery, salaried freelancers were able to see their debts recovered by the salary guarantee scheme, this is not the case for dozens of journalists, photographers and illustrators. The status of artist-author in fact penalized them: their debts were declared “irrecoverable” by the legal representative.
Except that the contributors don’t see it that way. Around thirty of them, who organized themselves through a WhatsApp group, added up the unpaid orders. According to their calculations, the “author debt” would approach 50,000 euros. An amount confirmed at World by the new shareholder Maurice Botbol, president of Indigo Publications, who believes that his group is not “legally responsible for this debt”.
A meeting in mid-December
It is at least morally, several authors defend. “It’s a rather left-leaning magazine. When you buy back, you don’t just take a balance sheet”wants to believe journalist Coline Emmel, working for the Swiss investigative media Gotham Citywhose invoice has not been paid. “Not paying us would be really contrary to the values they display, as an ethical, advertising-free and independent media”judges designer Alex Puvilland.
“Whether on social networks, in their newsletters or their online store, seeing my work used for free on a daily basis, it breaks any bond of trust that I may have with future employers as an artist-author”laments illustrator Amandine Urruty.
Representatives of the Unpaid Collective XXI and Maurice Botbol are due to meet in mid-December to negotiate. “I will do my best, but we will not be able to pay everything, and certainly not all at once”warns the latter, recalling that an additional 20,000 euros of debts to the authors, linked to the latest issues of XXI And 6 months, are already “priority being paid” because “under his responsibility”. “We will continue our mobilization if the meeting is unsuccessful”replies the designer Kokopello, whose real name is Antoine Angé, who adds: “The group is very united and no one will be left out. »