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William Haskins
11-05-2014, 12:36 AM
Steven Brill, the journalist and media entrepreneur, shared some details with Capital about the longform journalism startup he's building with former New York Times executive Jill Abramson.

Abramson first mentioned the startup at a Boston University panel discussion on Oct. 20; she discussed the project again at a Journalism and Women Symposium event over the weekend.

The crux of the project has previously been reported: the two will oversee an operation that will churn out one lengthy story per month. Contributing writers will be paid on average about $100,000 for a piece that is longer than a magazine story but shorter than a book.

Brill elaborated on that model for Capital. The project will operate on a subscription basis, and Brill said that contributing writers can also get a percentage of the subscription revenue generated by their pieces.

If the subscription share is less than the upfront payment, writers won't receive any additional remuneration. But if the subscription revenue share exceeds the upfront payment, writers will receive the difference between the two—on top of the initial payment.http://www.capitalnewyork.com/article/media/2014/11/8555955/steven-brill-jill-abramson-startup-comes-focus

William Haskins
11-05-2014, 12:38 AM
Abruptly deposed former New York Times editor Jill Abramson is teaming up with Steven Brill to start (http://www.capitalnewyork.com/article/media/2014/11/8555955/steven-brill-jill-abramson-startup-comes-focus) a publication that has **one million dollars** to give to writers just like you in the coming year alone. How can you get your piece?

They won't be giving a buck to a million writers, either; they'll be giving $100,000 to ten lucky writers in exchange for—this is true—one single story. A long fucking story, sure, but still: $100K, one story. A healthy year's salary for one story. That's more than most book contracts, and a story is shorter than a book! Ten writers will reportedly get the chance to live this dream. (It would be 12 writers, but Capital New York notes (http://www.capitalnewyork.com/article/media/2014/11/8555955/steven-brill-jill-abramson-startup-comes-focus)that "Brill and Abramson will each be contributing one piece per year.")

Sounds great, and sign me up. (Seriously, Jill, please, sign me up. I'm begging you. I need this. I can't go on like this. Things have gotten bad around here. It's toxic. I feel like I'm drinking poison each and every morning I wake up. I can't keep doing it. I can't. I need a way out. Any way at all. I'm a desperate man. For the love of god—please.) The nagging question, though, is how long can this gravy train really last? Burning through a million bucks a year for just one story a month, what exactly is the business model? Here it is, via Capital NY (http://www.capitalnewyork.com/article/media/2014/11/8555955/steven-brill-jill-abramson-startup-comes-focus): "The project will operate on a subscription basis, and Brill said that contributing writers can also get a percentage of the subscription revenue generated by their pieces... Brill said that subscription revenue 'will be the main component' of the project, financially, though he and Abramson are still talking to interested parties about investing."

As much as I love this idea as a writer (and future colleague?? Jill?), allow me to remind you of the old saying, "This shit will never work." http://gawker.com/a-million-dollars-for-writers-while-supplies-last-1654595679

Williebee
11-05-2014, 12:45 AM
The "subscription" foundation gives me doubts.

Unimportant
11-05-2014, 12:50 AM
I reckon there's maybe half a dozen authors on the planet who could generate sufficient subscriptions for this to be financially feasible.

Jamesaritchie
11-05-2014, 02:51 AM
I'll believe it when I see it. On the other hand, I stand to lose nothing either way, so go for it.

Stlight
11-05-2014, 10:02 AM
It's a novella by another name with weird funding, right?

AnneGlynn
11-07-2014, 03:25 AM
I'm not generally pessimistic. But....

Unless there's some super secret Evil Genius megaplan behind this (all life will perish unless everyone reads the novellas) or the selected authors are already hugely successful but infrequently published -- say, J.K. Rowling of late -- this doesn't seem to have an ice cube's chance at success.

I'm thinking "doomed to fail" for now.

RedWombat
11-07-2014, 04:31 AM
I suspect that a fool and his first publication rights are soon parted, but it's possible that I'm just cynical that way.

Tirjasdyn
11-07-2014, 05:15 AM
I bet the lucky writers have already been picked. They aren't going to be paying that kind of money to a nobody.

heza
11-08-2014, 01:14 AM
Speaking from a consumer standpoint, I just don't see myself buying into it. I haven't seen anything about what the subscription fee is (but I assume it's going to be hefty if it's the main revenue source)... but it would stand to reason that for the subscription fee, where I'd get one really long article a month (right?), I could go buy a full-length book from a different amazing author or read several magazines with lots of different articles. On the other hand, if I were getting an article from each author every month—and I liked all the authors—that might be worth a fee, but I'm not sure that's what they said.

I'd also probably need to know what the article was going to be about before I payed the subscription that month.



I bet the lucky writers have already been picked. They aren't going to be paying that kind of money to a nobody.

From the article:


As for the writers who will provide the content, he said: "It'll be a combination of very well-known established writers and rising stars, who we both have a pretty good habit of discovering."