By Bill Kirtz
Jill Abramson, fired (her words) last summer as New York Times executive editor, will join with Steven Brill on a startup to “give great journalists money they can live on.”
In a Boston University question-and-answer session Monday evening, she provided few details but said she and Brill — who won the National Magazine Award last year for his Time magazine cover story on medical costs — will write one story a year for the site. She said they’ve been pitching potential investors on the project.
Abramson was joined on stage by New York Times media columnist David Carr, a visiting professor at BU, who served up a steady stream of questions to his former boss.
In other remarks, Abramson praised former Washington Post executive editor Ben Bradlee as “the most consequential editor of my lifetime” and called The New York Review of Books a “perfect publication.”
Abramson, now teaching a once-a-week class at Harvard on narrative journalism, condemned “false equivalence” — reporting “on the one hand/on the other hand” as if each side is equally credible.”
After weighing and sifting all the facts, she said, journalists have the right to determine which side is right. As an example, she cited “Strange Justice,” the 1994 book she wrote with her then Wall Street Journal colleague Jane Mayer. They concluded that Supreme Court nominee (now Justice) Clarence Thomas had lied about significant incidents in his past.
“What is the press but calling power people and institutions to account?” she asked.
Bill Kirtz is an associate professor of journalism at Northeastern University.