Wednesday, February 15, 2006
Brill donates $1M to Yale for journalism fellowships
Yale Gets Million to Train Journalists
By KIM MARTINEAU; Courant Staff Writer
The Hartford CourantJanuary 26, 2006
The journalist and entrepreneur who founded The American Lawyer magazine
and Court TV has pledged about $1 million to Yale University, to fund a
program to train students in journalism and help them break into the
Steven Brill, 55, a Yale graduate who teaches a seminar in journalism at
his alma mater, was on campus Wednesday with his wife, Cynthia, to
announce the initiative.
Yale is not about to open a journalism school, he cautioned, or even
depart from its liberal arts tradition and start offering majors in
journalism. Rather, the couple's gift will go toward hiring a career
counselor and one or more visiting journalists to teach a journalism
seminar. It will also subsidize students working in unpaid or low-paid
summer internships who would otherwise be unable to afford the
``I have a real ulterior motive for doing this,'' said Brill, speaking at
a catered event in a new building, the Yale Writing Center. ``I just have
a very strong belief that if you're going to have a democracy and a free
market place, both of those depend on people having good, clear, honest
information and good honest people giving it to them.''
Yale would designate up to 25 journalism ``scholars'' each year and
require them to complete a range of courses, participate in an internship
and work on publications at Yale or outside campus. The program's emphasis
is on real world experience, in keeping with its benefactor's disdain for
journalism -- or ``J'' -- school.
``I think J-school is a giant waste of time,'' he told his audience. ``I
think the idea of spending a year going over and over the tricks of the
trade is not the best way to spend your time.''
For the past five years at Yale, Brill has taught a journalism seminar to
about 15 students, teaching them the fine points of interviewing, sourcing
and writing fairly. The course also gives students an overview of the
business pressures facing the profession.
Brill was a law student freelancing for New York magazine when he got the
idea to start a magazine about the legal profession. He met his wife at
Yale 30 years ago.
Philip Rucker, a senior and former editor at the Yale Daily News,
approached Brill after the talk. He has landed summer internships at The
Times-Picayune in New Orleans and The Washington Post, but he said he
could have saved time job hunting with the kind of guidance the new
program will offer. ``Logistically, it's so hard to get a foot in the
door,'' he said.
Another student, Tyler Hill of Atlanta, was busy taking notes on a yellow
legal pad. He was covering the event for the Yale Daily News. He said he
wasn't sure whether he would apply for the program. ``I'm just a
freshman,'' he said. But he said his decision to come to Yale was
influenced by the number of prominent journalists and writers the
university has turned out.
A list of those journalists, which reads like a ``Who's Who'' of the
profession, filled an entire page that was handed out to journalists
invited to cover the event Wednesday. They include conservative
commentator William F. Buckley Jr., CNN anchor Anderson Cooper and Michiko
Kakutani, chief book reviewer for The New York Times.
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