The Yale Journalism Initiative began in 2006 with a generous grant from Steven Brill ’72 LAW ’75, the founder of The American Lawyer magazine and Court TV, and his wife, Cynthia Margolin Brill ’72. It has since benefited from the generosity of Bob Woodward ’65 and Elsa Walsh, as well as Roger Strong and Bradley Graham. Its mission is to encourage and equip students in Yale College, and in its graduate and professional schools, who aspire to contribute to democracy in the United States and around the world by becoming journalists.
Believing that the best preparation for a career in writing is a broad, liberal-arts education, Yale does not offer a journalism major. There are numerous opportunities at Yale to study writing and to work for student publications, and the Initiative aims to further support certain students by offering them a) admission to a selective advanced seminar in the craft of journalism; b) resources, including financial support as needed, to find a summer internship in reporting; c) and, before and upon graduation, career counseling and assistance in reaching alumni already in the field. Students who finish the requirements receive the designation Yale Journalism Scholar, which has become a respected credential in journalism, assuring that the scholar is capable of rigorous and fair reporting at the highest level.
Many of the country’s finest journalists are Yale graduates, including Bob Woodward of The Washington Post, Jacob Weisberg of Slate, Jane Mayer and Sarah Stillman of The New Yorker, Ari Shapiro of NPR, Paul Steiger of ProPublica, and many more. In recent years, our alumni have secured jobs at The New York Times, The Economist, Buzzfeed, The Nation, The Los Angeles Times, and most other leading news outlets. The Yale Journalism Initiative is designed to help current Yale students take their places in this tradition.
Becoming a Scholar
Joining the YJI as a scholar requires four steps.
- Enroll in English 467: Journalism, the prerequisite course for the YJI, which is offered both terms. As with every creative-writing seminar, admission is at the discretion of the professor, who will consider applicants’ past courses and writing samples. Students should check with the English department about application deadlines, which are often before the beginning of the term, or even in the prior semester.
- Complete a summer internship, approved by the YJI director, at a newspaper or magazine. Students may seek career advice from YJI staff and may be eligible for grants of up to $5,000, depending on need and available resources.
- Either publish one full-length feature or five shorter articles in a non-Yale magazine or newspaper; publish two full-length magazine articles in a Yale publication; or hold a senior editorial position at a Yale publication.
- Complete either an advanced writing course, besides ENGL 467, in the English Department; any writing course in a different department; or a similar course at a graduate or professional school. Students interested in nonfiction writing should consult the wide offerings in Yale College (taught by professors including Alan Burdick, Anne Fadiman, Cynthia Zarin, Carl Zimmer, James Surowiecki, Margaret Spillane, Sarah Stillman and Verlyn Klinkenborg), as well as the course catalogs of Yale’s other schools.
Email the faculty director, Mark Oppenheimer, at firstname.lastname@example.org, for more information.
What if I don’t get into the gateway class?
Students may apply to English 467 any semester at Yale, and may apply even if rejected before. But be mindful that the Yale Journalism Initiative exists for all Yale students. First, sign up for our newsletter by writing to email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org with “newsletter” in the subject line; you will get a weekly digest of job postings, upcoming deadlines, and on-campus events related to journalism and nonfiction writing. Second, feel free to schedule a meeting with YJI faculty director Mark Oppenheimer (at email@example.com) to talk about getting involved in journalism at Yale. Third, consider one of the many other writing classes at Yale, like English 120, English 121, or Daily Themes. See the online course catalog for the dozens of classes in writing at Yale. Finally, write for a publication! Yale has dozens of them, most open to anyone: The Yale Daily News, The Yale Herald, The New Journal, The Yale Scientific, Down, The Globalist, and more. Check them out.
YJI Jobs, Internships, & Fellowships Database
Find in the sections below helpful articles, resources and opportunity notices that might help you in your ongoing pursuit of journalism; these have been referred by YJI staff, Yale students, and Yale alums. Please note that the external sites are neither created nor maintained by Yale staff; therefore, Yale is not responsible for the content presented therein. In addition to our exclusive postings, we aim to cull the best from other databases, including those maintained by New York University, UC-Berkeley, JournalismJobs.com, Mediabistro.com, Ed2010.com, and the American Society of Newspaper Editors. International newspapers can be found at thepaperboy.com. Many Yale fellowships, including those for independent reporting and internship support, can also be found by searching the database of the Center for International and Professional Experience. Again, more news is always available in our newsletter. Yale students looking for jobs and internships should also consult with Derek Webster, of Yale’s Office of Career Strategy, and with YJI director Mark Oppenheimer.
Finally, many small newspapers will be happy to have a poorly paid summer intern to help cover local news. If there’s some town you’d like to get to know better, write to the news editor of its local newspaper and offer your services for the summer. The smaller the town (and its newspaper), the better your odds for success.