Every Friday, we choose an alum who has been making headlines—for better or for worse.
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Steven Brill ’72, ’75JD: sweet sales of a “Bitter Pill”

In the 1980s Steven Brill ’72, ’75JD, broke new journalistic ground by rolling legal news, business reporting, and law firm gossip into American Lawyer, a glossy magazine with newsstand ambitions and sky-high subscription prices. In the 1990s, Brill invented Court TV. In recent years, he cofounded Press+, a service that helps online publishers “monetize” their “content” in an era when people are used to reading stuff for free. (He also teaches writing at Yale, where he and his wife, Cynthia Margolin Brill ’72, donated money to launch the Yale Journalism Initiative).

Now Brill has temporarily stowed his entrepreneurial hat and put on an old-fashioned reporter’s cap—with some digitally startling results.


Bitter Pill,” Brill’s 36-page Time magazine cover story about health care costs, is a surprise hit with readers (behind a paywall, naturally). The 25,000-word article “broke online records, selling 16 times more than an average week for digital single copy sales and digital subscriptions and becoming the most viewed magazine cover article on,” a New York Times media blog reports. At this writing, the article is number six on Time’s most-read list (right above “LIFE With Mike the Headless Chicken”).

Brill’s attack on the US health care system has drawn critics as well as fans. (Among the latter: Jon Stewart of the Daily Show, stammering in admiration.) In keeping with his business outlook, Brill’s bottom-line critique is not just that health care costs too much but that, in the words of Time managing editor Richard Stengel, “it’s a seller’s market . . . It’s a $2.8 trillion market, but it's not a free one.”

Filed under Steven Brill, Time magazine, health care, journalism
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