If not for the coverage of other media and one cryptic mailing from Brill’s Content concerning my subscription, I would not have known changes were in store for this media watchdog of a magazine.
For a publication that has proclaimed since its inception that “skepticism is a virtue,” the newly formulated Brill’s Content has a ways to go to prove that it still has its loyal readers at heart. A recent merger-type deal with Inside.com married Brill’s to a host of other media ventures, the very kind of venture the watchdog is supposed to be biting. And Steven Brill didn’t tell us nearly enough about it. But my fears were quelled somewhat with my receipt of the first issue under the new format. It’s squat and thick; at least a couple of month’s worth of reporting has been crammed into what looks more like a scholarly journal than a consumer magazine. Some of my favorite features are missing, but others—like “Stuff We Like” and the ombudsman—are still there. The feature stories, always ones to wallow in the minutiae of things like TV programming decisions, are now even longer think pieces.
In the fall 2001 issue, there’s the coverage of Bob Kerry’s Vietnam secret, exhaustingly detailed reporting on the Blumenthal-Drudge libel suit and a fun breakdown of which war movies were approved and denied by the Pentagon and why. There is quite a bit of good reading in here, so I’ll forgive Brill’s for changing—for now.