Brill’s Content , a magazine about journalism, has a splashy survey of “Who Gets Paid What” in its May issue. Readers learned exactly how much money separates media titans from the lower orders. ABC’s grande dame Barbara Walters pulls down $10 million a year while a TV news director in Glendive, Mont., makes $22,000. Over on West 43rd Street, New York Times chairman Arthur Sulzberger Jr.’s annual package–pegged by the Brill’s Content folks at $1.1 million–is roughly double that of his executive editor, Joseph Lelyveld (who’s somewhere between $450,000 and $600,000, according to team Brill).
The Brill’s Content survey is an exhaustive exercise in numbers crunching. It covers every medium, from TV to the Internet. But it’s also fun to read. And if something in Brill’s Content is actually fun to read, well, you know what that means. It means you’re going to get a big sermon from a Brill’s Content editor.
“There are lots of different ways to look at media,” goes the sermon, “and for this magazine, the most important is to examine the–surprise–content.” (Get it?) “But our mission,” it continues, lugubriously, “is to give our readers the smartest, fullest picture we can of how nonfiction content is created, and that means understanding” (allow me to cut in here for a brief moment to remind you that this is all leading up to a salary survey–Dan Rather’s at $7 million a year! Sam Champion’s at $600,000!) “understanding the people, ideas, and market forces that are shaping that world.”
And on and on. But nowhere in this long sermon or the 12-page feature is there a whisper of salaries at Brill’s Content itself. In fact, just about the only mini-mogul not to have his wallet forcibly spread-eagled in the article is the magazine’s chairman and editor in chief Steven Brill, the lawyer-turned-media ethicist. Was this omission a sensible editorial decision or just the kind of thing that the pugnacious publisher might pounce upon himself?
“We figured it didn’t make much sense to write about ourselves,” said Mr. Brill. “It’s too self-important, or too easy.”
Asked to state his own compensation, Mr. Brill–who reportedly cashed in his American Lawyer and Court TV holdings for as much as $40 million before launching the watchdog magazine that so prominently carries his name–responded with a firm No.
“I own the company, so I pay myself,” he said. “It’s either too high or too low, depending on my view of myself.”
Also keeping his purse clasped shut is Eric Effron, the No. 2 editor at Brill’s Content . “People are entitled to try to keep their salaries secret,” he wrote in the sermon leading up the salary survey. “But it’s worth noting that, in the end, secrecy most serves the interest of the bosses.” Be that as it may, Mr. Effron isn’t talking about his own salary, except to declare, “I earn every penny.”
According to Mr. Brill, there was some discussion of including Brill’s Content salaries, but he decided against it. His deputy Mr. Effron agreed. “We report on people who work in the media and who own media,” said Mr. Effron, “so we could actually report on ourselves all the time.”
At least one journalist who made the list wasn’t greatly pleased. “I wasn’t crazy about having my salary in there, but didn’t feel I had a lot of choice about it,” said White House correspondent John Harris of The Washington Post , who was listed as earning $100,000. “My understanding is that it was their attempt at a best guess rather than a precise figure. For what it’s worth, they didn’t arrive at the precise figure.”
The rationale behind the Brill’s Content salary scoreboard, Mr. Effron said, is the public’s right to know who media bosses value more: a weatherman in Davenport, Iowa, or The Washington Post ‘s White House reporter. (The guy pointing to the clouds wins.) But doesn’t Citizen Consumer have an equal right to know how much the guardians of the press are valued? Yes, conceded Mr. Brill. He said he may include some salaries from his own magazine in next year’s poll.
Both Mr. Brill and Mr. Effron denied anything hypocritical in keeping their own pay secret. “It would only be hypocritical if I was offended by your efforts to find out my salary,” Mr. Effron said.
Spilling the golden beans is one thing, but naming names is quite another. As one member of Brill’s Content ‘s staff put it: “People are more happy to talk about their sex lives than their salary. It’s the last taboo.”
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There are some things that can’t be worked off at the gym–among them, male breasts. So in the last few years, a certain kind of New York fellow has gotten rid of the jiggle through breast reduction surgery.
“What guys basically want is to have that whole upper torso thing, that nice V-shape, and it’s hard to do,” said Michael Lafavore, the editor of Men’s Health magazine. “You see those chests out there a lot, in the media, and I suppose on our covers as well. Maybe we’re a little tired of abs by now, and now we need something new to obsess about.”
Manhattan plastic surgeons say the demand for male breast-reduction procedures, which require liposuction and occasionally the removal of breast tissue, is on the rise.
Stanley Taub, a plastic surgeon at 737 Park Avenue, said he performs male breast-reduction surgeries three or four times a week. One of his patients, David Gomes, went under the knife April 14. “I gained some weight and made some money, so I decided to spend it,” said Mr. Gomes, a 30-year-old former patent lawyer. “Before the surgery, I was getting some man-bra jokes.”
A 22-year-old struggling actor told about his most embarrassing moment: “I was in a show where there was a scene where I had to take my shirt off. And I was very reluctant to do it. And I actually had my girlfriend there at the time … So, anyway, I took the shirt off, and it was a pretty funny scene … and one of the other cast members said something like, ‘Oh, that was hilarious, but what really made it work was, you know, your fat tits.’ That was kind of tough. And I ended up seeing the girl, she ended up breaking up with me.”
The actor had breast reduction surgery in September at a price of $6,000. “Now I’m really motivated to get the rest of my body in shape,” he said.
Gerald Imber, who charges $10,000 for the procedure, said, “At this time, when men are suddenly so body-conscious … it’s out of place to have female-type breasts.” Dr. Imber said his patients are “young, almost exclusively men in their 20′s and 30′s, and they obviously have the means.”
Darrick Antell, a Park Avenue plastic surgeon who charges about $6,000 for breast-reduction surgery, said, “Some men tell me that when they’re out jogging, they feel their breasts jumping up and down, and they feel very uncomfortable about it.”
Mr. Gomes, whose chest is healing nicely, said he was happy to pay Dr. Taub the $4,000 for the surgery. “I think the four grand is cheap, actually,” he said. “I know of somebody else who had liposuction for his midsection, and someone else who got a breast implant, and compared to all that, this is competitive. We’re talking about a Park Avenue plastic surgeon.”
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