Steven Brill (journalist)

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For the scriptwriter, see Steven Brill (scriptwriter).

Steven Brill (born August 22, 1950)[1] is the founder of CourtTV and American Lawyer magazine. His most recent venture is Journalism Online, which he sold to RR Donnelley in 2011 for a reported $45 million and now has more than 400 publications using its Press+ service to charge for digital content. In Sept. 2014 Piano Media purchased Press+ from RR Donnelley [2] He also founded Verified Identity Pass, Inc., a New York–based company that operated the Clear airport security fast-pass, a precursor to the current Federal Trusted Traveler program.[3] In 1998, Brill created Brill's Content, a widely acclaimed magazine with a critical eye to the media.[4] He also launched, which was to be a clearinghouse for the buying and selling of web text, news, and info of all sorts. In addition to writing a column for Newsweek, he has written magazine articles for The New Yorker, The New York Times Sunday Magazine, Harpers and Time. Brill's recent reporting is mainly concerned with healthcare costs, which he covered in a 24,105-word "special report" for Time (March 4, 2013) entitled Bitter Pill: Why Medical Bills Are Killing Us, issue[5] -– the first time in Time's history when the entire feature section of the magazine was dedicated to a single story by one writer.[5] Bitter Pill is an in-depth investigation of hospital billing practices that reveals why U.S. health care spending is out of control.[6] Brill is continuing his reporting for Time magazine with regular monthly columns on the same subject throughout 2013-14 culminating in a book in late 2014 to be published by Random House. He is the author of three books: The Teamsters (1978), After: How America Confronted the September 12th Era (2003) and Class Warfare: Inside the Fight to Fix America's Schools (2011).

Bitter Pill: Why Medical Bills Are Killing Us[edit]

Brill's Time magazine cover story, an investigation of billing practices, reveals that hospitals—and the executives who run them—are gaming the system to maximize revenue[7] and sticking patients with bills that have little relationship to the care that's provided. The free market in American medicine is a myth, with or without Obamacare.[8] The 24,000-plus word article took up the entire feature section of the magazine, the first time in the history of TIME that has happened. [9]

Time magazine's managing editor Rick Stengel writes:[5]

Why do we spend nearly 20% of our gross domestic product on health care, twice as much as most other developed countries, which get the same or better health outcomes? Why, Brill asks, does America spend more on healthcare than the next 10 highest-spending countries combined? ... It's a $2.8 trillion market, but it's not a free one.... Brill meticulously dissects bills and calculates the true costs ... right down to the 10,000% mark up that hospitals put on acetaminophen.... If the piece has a villain, it's something you've probably never heard of: the chargemaster, the mysterious internal price list for products and services that every hospital in the U.S. keeps. If the piece has a hero, it's an unlikely one: Medicare, the government program that by law can pay hospitals only the approximate costs of care. ... According to Brill, there are things that can be done. He argues that lowering the age of Medicare entry, not raising it, would lower costs. And that allowing Medicare to competitively price and assess drugs would save billions of dollars. Most of all, health care must be a market in which patients can help control costs by understanding them better.

Class Warfare[edit]

Brill's book Class Warfare: Inside the Fight to Fix America's Schools (2011) described the success of charter schools, using the Success Academy Charter Schools (then known as Harlem Success Academy) as an example, and profiled teacher Jessica Reid as a model of what could be done without union restrictions. He described how unions, particularly the United Federation of Teachers and UFT president Randi Weingarten in New York City, protected incompetent teachers, and were opposed to pay-for-performance, and obstructed necessary reforms,[10] a system he previously exposed in The New Yorker.[11]

But by the time Brill came to the end of the book, Reid quit. The long hours and stress of her job, with nightly calls to parents, and constant prodding of students, were affecting her marriage.[10] Brill changed his position on charter schools and unions. He said that after two years of researching school reform, he understood the complexities. He reversed his view of Weingarten, and proposed that New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg appoint her chancellor of the school system.[10]

Personal life[edit]

Brill was born in Queens, New York. He is a graduate of Deerfield Academy and Yale University (B.A. 1972, J.D. 1975). He is married and has three children. He currently resides in New York City and Bedford, New York.[12]

Timeline of projects[edit]

  • 1978: October: Teamsters (ISBN 0-671-22771-8) is published
  • 1979: The American Lawyer is launched
  • 1991: CourtTV is launched
  • 1998: June: Brill's Content is launched
  • 2000: July: Contentville is launched[13]
  • 2001: Brill begins teaching an advanced journalism course at Yale[14]
  • 2001: November: Brill signs on as a contributing editor for Newsweek[15]
  • 2003: April: After: How America Confronted the September 12 Era (ISBN 0-7432-3709-9) is published
  • 2003: October: The America Prepared Campaign is launched
  • 2003: Fall: Founded Verified Identity Pass/Clear Registered Traveler Program
  • 2009: April: Co-founded Journalism Online, a digital publishing services company that created Press+[16]
  • 2011: March 24: Journalism Online is sold to RR Donnelley[17]
  • 2011: August: Class Warfare: Inside the Fight to Fix America's Schools (ISBN 978-1-4516-1199-1)
  • 2013: February: Bitter Pill: Why Medical Bills Are Killing Us is published in Time magazine[6]

American Lawyer[edit]

The American Lawyer, a monthly magazine covering the business of law firms and lawyers across the U.S. and around the world, was founded by Brill in 1979. Among its early contributors were Jill Abramson and Jim Cramer. The magazine is well known for its signature surveys including the Am Law 100, a ranking of the top 100 law firms. The magazine also covered the rise and subsequent precipitous collapse of the law firm of Finley, Kumble, Wagner, Underberg, Manley, Myerson & Casey in 1987.[18]

Court TV[edit]

Court TV (now TruTV) was founded by Brill in 1989. The network launched on July 1, 1991. Among its original anchors were Fred Graham, who was still at the network twenty years later, and Cynthia McFadden and Terry Moran, who later joined ABC News. The network was born out of two competing projects to launch cable channels with live courtroom proceedings, the American Trial Network from Time Warner and American Lawyer Media and In Court from Cablevision and NBC. Both projects were present at the National Cable Television Association in June 1990. Rather than trying to establish two competing networks, the projects were combined in December 1990. Liberty Media would join the venture in 1991. Court TV featured continuous live trial coverage, with analysis by anchors. The network came into its own during the Menendez brothers' first trial and later the O.J. Simpson murder trial. Brill led the network until 1997 when he resigned.

Brill's Content[edit]

Brill's Content was a media watchdog publication that ceased publication in 2001.[19] The publication ran from Vol. 1, no. 1 (Aug. 1998)-v. 4, no. 6 (Fall 2001).[20] The magazine caused a stir with an article by Brill in its very first issue titled "Pressgate," which charged that independent counsel Ken Starr and his office had been the source of much of the information for reporters regarding the grand jury proceedings about the Lewinsky scandal and that as a result Starr may have violated federal law or ethical and prosecutorial guidelines.[21] The publication became less associated with Brill after its founding.[22]


In 2003 Brill founded Clear, a subsidiary of Verified Identity Pass, Inc. It allowed travelers to get through airport security quickly with an annual subscription to the program and pre-screening. Brill is not associated with the current Clear operations.[23]

Journalism Online[edit]

In 2009 Brill and two other media executives created Journalism Online to help newspapers and magazines charge for online access.[24] The company was sold to RR Donnelley for a reported $45 million in 2011 and now has more than 400 newspapers, magazines and online only websites using its Press+ service to charge for digital content. Brill and co-founder Gordon Crovitz remain as co-CEOs.



  1. ^ "Steven Brill". Contemporary Authors Online (Fee – via Fairfax County Public Library). Detroit: Gale. 2005. Gale Document Number: GALE|H1000012101. Retrieved 2011-08-21.  Gale Biography In Context.
  2. ^ [1]
  3. ^
  4. ^ Downsizings, Oct. 16–31, 2001
  5. ^ a b c Stengel, Richard (2013-03-04). "The High Cost of Care". Time. Retrieved 2013-03-03. 
  6. ^ a b Brill, Steven (2013-02-20). "Bitter Pill: Why Medical Bills Are Killing Us". Time. Retrieved 2013-03-03. 
  7. ^ Brill's Big Breakthrough by Trudy Lieberman, Columbia Journalism Review, March 5, 2013
  8. ^ The Daily Show interview with Jon Stewart, February 21, 2013
  9. ^ Becker's Healthcare
  10. ^ a b c Nocera, Joe, Teaching With the Enemy, in The New York Times, Nov. 7, 2011.
  11. ^ Annals of Education: The Rubber Room: The battle over New York City's worst teachers. by Steven Brill, The New Yorker, August 31, 2009
  12. ^ Palm eBook Store: Author: Steven Brill in the Yale Alumni Magazine
  13. ^ Listen Up Contentville – Authors Win Lawsuit in ForeWord
  14. ^ Yale's content enhanced by Brill in Yale Alumni Magazine
  15. ^ Brill is born again as a Newsweek columnist
  16. ^ Journalism's Savior? – Newsweek
  17. ^ [2]
  18. ^ SHIPP, E. R. (November 11, 1987). "Finley, Kumble, Major Law Firm, Facing Revamping or Dissolution". New York Times Finley, Kumble, Major Law Firm, Facing Revamping or Dissolution. Retrieved 2011-08-21.  Article is about the event only – makes no mention of Brill or American Lawyer
  19. ^ Brill's Content Closes and Primedia Acquires Inside The Write News
  20. ^ "Brill's Content". Worldcat (OCLC). 2011. Retrieved 2011-05-10 
  21. ^ Holmes, Steven A. (17 June 1998). "Battle Heats Up Over Article That Questioned Starr's Comments to Reporters". The New York Times. p. 28. 
  22. ^ Snyder, Gabriel (3 July 2000). "Steven Brill is keeping his hands off the content of Brill’s Content". The New York Observer. Retrieved 27 May 2013. 
  23. ^ Clear
  24. ^ Media Executives Plan Online Service to Charge for Content

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