I need to add something to that, since Yemon Choi has pointed out that the New Scientist magazine, for whom I have done (paid) work in the past (listed here), is owned by Reed Business Information, part of the Reed-Elsevier group.
So am I going to refuse further (paid) work for the New Scientist? It’s a perfectly fair question. My answer is no.
Here is some self-justification: I like the New Scientist as a magazine. Granted, it’s had its share of problems in the past. But overall I believe that it is – in and of itself – a force for good in the world. I regret that RBI is a stable-mate of Elsevier.
I’ll readily admit that there is self-interest at work here too. I like to write about progress in the mathematical sciences. I like my articles to reach a broad audience, and, yes, I also like getting paid.
There are very few outlets where a story about mathematics can be written at reasonable length, without being excessively dumbed down (hopefully!), reach a decent number of people, and earn the author a few quid. So I’m not willing, at this stage, to cut myself off from the biggest one in the UK.
Having said all this, I believe that I can, in good faith, remain a signatory to The Cost Of Knowledge. This is a space to “declare publicly that you will not support any Elsevier journal”. I understand this as referring to academic journals pulished by Elsevier, rather than magazines published by RBI. Certainly the discussions that I have read around the petition seems to reinforce that interpretation. However, I would be happy to reconsider my position if anyone can make a strong case that I’m guilty of having my cake and eating it.