On Monday evening, former MSNBC general manager and current NBC News chief legal analyst Dan Abrams was talking about his new gig.
Less than a week after he announced he was launching a “global strategy firm” that would assemble a network of thousands of working journalists, bloggers, authors and ex-journalists, he was drowning in applications.
He’d made it easy, of course. The same day he announced his plans, he launched a Web site where anyone can pretty much apply to become an “expert” for the firm by simply submitting one’s background information and by checking off areas of media-related expertise, ranging from politics and sports to pharmaceuticals and video games.
Some five days later, according to Mr. Abrams, he has 650 applicants, the bulk of whom are freelance journalists, people who are writing books and individuals who have recently been laid off or walked away from jobs in the media industry.
“It’s a mix of TV, online media and print people,” said Mr. Abrams. “I think it’s somewhat equally weighted. Maybe a little bit more heavily toward TV. It’s everything from household names to producers to bloggers to people who have started their own online media entities.”
“That’s not bad for five days,” said Mr. Abrams.
He said that eventually he hopes to have some 20,000 experts in the database.
Recently, Jessica Pressler of New York magazine and Ryan Tate of Gawker (among others) have questioned the ethical implications of hiring working journalists to moonlight in public relations and media consulting. On Monday evening, Mr. Abrams seemed a touch testy about the criticism.
“There’s something a little bit offensive to me—as all these media organizations are cutting back so significantly on personnel—that people are out there saying, ‘Well, Dan Abrams shouldn’t be trying to help them find any work,’” said Mr. Abrams. “You know, give them a break.”
While Mr. Abrams continues to assemble his armada of media consultants, he is also brainstorming about the myriad services Abrams Research might perform in the future. “We’re thinking about media surveys,” said Mr. Abrams. “I think down the road, we’re going to be doing conferences. I’m still thinking of creative ways of harnessing all that talent and utilizing it.”
For the time being, the company is keeping the identity of its applicants under wraps. Mr. Abrams said it will be a few more weeks before the firm starts advertising the names of its star experts.
“I can tell you there are people in our database who are on-air network news personalities, who I would describe as household names,” said Mr. Abrams.
The Observer has learned that one former on-air news personality who will be joining the network as an expert is Rob Morrison—the onetime war correspondent for MSNBC and NBC News, who until recently anchored Today in New York. When reached by phone on Tuesday, Mr. Morrison (who left WNBC in May) confirmed that he would be participating in Mr. Abrams’ network.
“If he has the need for a former-Marine-slash-local-slash-network-news guy, I’d love to help him out, why not?” said Mr. Morrison. “This seems like the perfect kind of company where all these things can cohabitate together. Who knows what can come from it? In my mind, it seems like a great kind of petri dish.”