Journalism Initiative

The Yale Journalism Initiative began in 2006 with a generous grant from Yale alumnus Steven Brill ’72 LAW ’75, the founder of The American Lawyer magazine and Court TV, and his wife, Cynthia Margolin Brill ’72. Its purpose 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 write for and edit student publications, and the Initiative aims to further support certain students, those selected as Yale Journalism Scholars, with an intensive journalism seminar in the English department; career counseling; support for summer internships; talks by visiting journalists; and access to a network of alumni in journalism. Details about becoming a Journalism Scholar can be found here.

Many of the country’s finest journalists are Yale graduates, including Bob Woodward, Tom Wolfe, former Harper’s editor Lewis Lapham,National Review founder William F. Buckley, Slate editor Jacob Weisberg, New Yorker staff writer Jane Mayer, genocide expert and Pulitzer Prize winner Samantha Power, and editor-in-chief Paul Steiger. The Yale Journalism Initiative is designed to help current Yale students take their places in this tradition.

Use this site to learn more about the Initiative’s programs. If you have further questions, please contact the Initiative’s coordinator, Mark Oppenheimer, by email (


Becoming a YJI Scholar

All students who have taken English 467 Journalism and would like to be certified Yale Journalism Scholars should bring hard copy to Mark Oppenheimer’s mailbox in the Writing Center an envelope containing: 1) your five best clips, 2) a one-page resume, and 3) a letter saying how you have fulfilled the requirements. The deadline is April 1.

Apply now for the 2015 Gordon Fellowship

All The Gordon Summer Journalism Fellowships are intended to support and inspire independent summer journalism projects in the U.S. or abroad, particularly (but not exclusively) for aspiring journalists, writers and photographers. The Fellowship is open to Yale Journalism Scholars and to active participants in the Yale Daily News and its affiliated publications. Applicants are encouraged to be ambitious and creative in their thinking.

The Fellowships are intended to fund all expenses of a summer project, including travel, equipment and living expenses. Projects should first and foremost be journalistic in nature, involving first hand reporting, researching and writing of current events, issues or trends intended for publication in a newspaper or magazine (including on-line news or information sites). Investigative and analytical projects are encouraged. These are primarily journalism fellowships, not travel fellowships, and proposals need not involve travel.
  1. DurationProjects are expected to be summer-long, half-summer or one month in duration; however, projects that are begun during the Fellowship but designed to continue into the future will also be considered.
  2. Who is Eligible: Fellowships are intended for (1) Yale Journalism Scholars and (2) members of the YDN Board, in either case who are in their sophomore or junior year at the time of application (i.e., for summer after sophomore or junior year). Graduating seniors may also be considered.
  3. Amount/What’s Covered: Projects will be funded based on scope and need. Grants have ranged from $3,000 to $7,000 in the past. Shorter term project will likely qualify for relatively less funding. The grants are intended to cover all expenses related to the project, including travel, equipment and living expenses. Applicants will be expected to develop and submit a reasonably detailed budget. No more than $12,000 will be awarded for all Fellowships in any one year. Students receiving financial aid from Yale are encouraged to apply. We will work with you to seek to make the Fellowship work with your summer-contribution and other financial aid requirements.
  4. Application Process: Applications must be submitted not later than Monday, March 23, 2015. Applications should be emailed to Mark Gordon ( Please contact us if this deadline poses a particular problem for you. Each application must include:
    • A two- to four-page statement describing the project, including:
      • How you became interested in your topic;
      • What work you have already done in the area (either in Yale coursework, through the YJI, YDN or other Yale publications, or in your prior summer experiences);
      • What advance/ preparatory work you intend to do;
      • If travel is involved, what contacts or connections you have (or expect to make) in the places to which you will travel;
      • Whether you be working with or be connected with any other established group, institution or organization (academic, media, other);
      • Whether you will be applying for additional fellowships or grants in connection with the project.
    • A resume.
    • A budget indicating the types or categories of expenses you expect to incur and an initial estimate of amounts, and indicating other sources of income, if any.
    • A collection of your most significant “clippings” – articles you have written for the Yale undergraduate publications. Please include any writing you may have done for Yale coursework that is relevant to your subject matter.
    • Applicants with the strongest proposals will be interviewed at least once by the Fellowship Committee. References may be requested in appropriate circumstances. However, you should not assume they will be required.
  5. Criteria for Selection: The selection of applications to be awarded Fellowships, the number of Fellowships to be awarded in a given year, and the size of each of such Fellowships will be determined each year in the discretion of the Fellowship Committee. Among the factors to be considered by the Fellowship Committee in evaluating a particular proposal are the merits of the proposal, the seriousness and commitment of the applicant, the applicant’s past and future contributions to journalism at Yale, the financial requirements of the proposal, and the merit and financial requirements of other competing applications. Concrete, well-thought-out proposals will, unsurprisingly, have a greater chance of success. It is possible that no fellowships will be granted in any given year. Applying for a Fellowship does not preclude you from applying for other grants or fellowships for which you may be eligible through Yale or external sources.
  6. During-Fellowship and Post-Fellowship Follow-up: During the Fellowship summer, Fellowship recipients will be expected to provide twice-weekly updates to the Fellowship Committee via email. Following the summer, Fellowship recipients will be expected to present and discuss their work with the Fellowship Committee and other interested YDN staff members and alumni. If suitable, the work would be expected to be published in the appropriate YDN publication.
  7. Support/Assistance: We are available to assist students in developing their ideas into full proposals. If you are interested, please contact: Mark Oppenheimer (; Mark Gordon ‘90 (; Motoko Rich ‘91 (; or Paul Needham ‘11 ( Depending on the project, we may be able to put you in contact with journalists or others working in the relevant geographic or topical areas.