Yale Journalism Initiative to Offer Seminar with New York Times Managing Editor

Jill Abramson, managing editor of The New York Times, will teach an advanced course in journalism at Yale College during the spring semester, 2007.

Abramson will teach a course for students interested in pursuing careers in journalism. Her seminar, along with another offered in the fall, will be one of the core course requirements for participation in the Yale Journalism Initiative, under the auspices of which Yale students can become Yale Journalism Scholars. (A fact sheet summarizing the Yale Journalism Initiative is attached.)

“One of the goals of Yale College is to help students polish their written communication skills,” said Yale College Dean Peter Salovey. “Through the Journalism Initiative, students will learn to appreciate excellent writing and produce it themselves. Having Jill Abramson on campus will be a wonderful opportunity for our students to gain a better understanding of the challenges facing contemporary journalists from the unique perspective of the managing editor of The New York Times. We welcome her to the Yale community.”

Abramson was appointed managing editor of The New York Times in August 2003 after serving as that paper’s Washington bureau chief for three years. She was the first woman to hold either position. Prior to joining the Times, Abramson worked at The Wall Street Journal, 1988–1997, as deputy bureau chief for the Washington office and as an investigative reporter. From 1986 to 1988 she was editor-in-chief of Legal Times, a weekly Washington-based newspaper with a national readership.

In addition to many articles and essays, Abramson has written two books: “Strange Justice: The Selling of Clarence Thomas,” co-authored with Jane Mayer (Houghton Mifflin, 1994), was a finalist in the nonfiction category for the National Book Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award; and “Where They Are Now: The Story of the Women of Harvard Law, 1974” (Doubleday, 1986).

In 1992, Abramson won the National Press Club’s Correspondence Award for her series of articles on the role of money in the 1992 elections. In 2000, she taught an undergraduate seminar on politics and journalism at Princeton University.

Abramson graduated magna cum laude from Harvard University in 1976 with a bachelor’s degree in history and literature.

“The search committee solicited names from faculty across the university and received over 100 suggestions. Because of her award-winning reporting and significant books, Ms. Abramson quickly became a top candidate,” noted Linda Peterson, the Niel Gray Jr. Professor of English and chair of the search. “We are all very pleased that she has agreed to teach at Yale next spring.” Other members of the committee were poet J.D. McClatchy, editor of The Yale Review; essayist Anne Fadiman, the Francis Writer-in-Residence at Yale; and Alfred Guy, director of the Center for Writing Instruction at Yale. Dean of Undergraduate Education Joseph Gordon and Fred Strebeigh, senior lecturer in English, were advisors to the committee.

The Yale Journalism Initiative was launched in 2006 with a grant from Yale alumni Steven Brill, the founder of The American Lawyer magazine and Court TV, and his wife, Cynthia Margolin Brill. The goal of the initiative is to encourage and train students in Yale College and in the graduate and professional schools to contribute to democracy in the United States and around the world by becoming journalists.

Every year, the Yale Journalism Initiative will bring to campus two highly regarded working journalists who will serve as visiting faculty members, one in the fall and one in the spring. The journalists will be selected for their wide-ranging professional experience, their reputation in the field and their demonstrated eagerness to teach students and serve as mentors. Brill is teaching the Advanced Journalism seminar this fall to launch the new program.

Many of the country’s finest journalists are Yale graduates, including Bob Woodward, Jeff Greenfield, former Harper’s editor Lewis Lapham, National Review founder William F. Buckley, Slate editor Jacob Weisberg, Pulitzer Prize winner Samantha Power and Wall Street Journal managing editor Paul Steiger. The Yale Journalism Initiative is designed to help current Yale students continue this tradition.

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Media Contact

Gila Reinstein: gila.reinstein@yale.edu, 203-432-1325