Jill Abramson, Steven Brill Back Long-Form Journalism Startup

photo via celebuzz.com

A new startup venture spearheaded by former New York Times executive editor Jill Abramson and award-winning journalist-Court TV founder Steven Brill focusing on long-form journalism says it will advance writers around $100,000 to produce substantial, longer-than-magazine length articles, according to Poynter.

Abramson, who fleshed-out plans for the as-yet unnamed venture at a Journalism and Women’s Symposium last weekend in California, said the venture will feature one story per month and will be available by subscription.

Although Abramson did not elaborate on potential investors, she said that she and Brill “were very close” to a possible deal with a funder. Poynter reported that Abramson said, “If you are offering the ability to deliver something that is qualitatively different, there are investors willing to jump into that space.”

At the symposium, Abramson reportedly told potential writers/contributors to the new venture that they should “pitch a great idea and demonstrate the ability to deliver on it.”

Given the nature of pitching stories, and with a potential $100,000 on the line, that advice may be a tall order for even the most battle-hardened freelancer. But, notwithstanding Abramson and Brill’s intriguing new long-form journalism start-up, I took issue with some of the former editors’ comments following her discussion.

Poynter reported that Abramson was asked what newsroom leaders should do who inherit pay inequalities, but lack the ability to give raises. Abramson reportedly said, “You bring the guys down to give a little more to the girls.” She added that, “I did that at the Times. No one’s happy to get a cut, but too bad.”

Well, we’ve never been an executive editor at the NYT, but that doesn’t seem to be a great way to keep the peace in the newsroom. From what I’ve experienced, most journalists aren’t paid a fortune to begin with. And cutting a journalist’s salary purely based on gender doesn’t seem quite fair either.