Brill’s Content, straight from the hallowed halls of Yale

Bear with us as Fishbowl takes yet another trip to New Haven, courtesy of Fishtern Maureen Miller:

Not five months to my graduation, and I learn my ol’ writing professor Steve Brill is giving a million (or more!) to advance the study of journalism at Yale. Within the year, Brill’s endowment will allow selected Yale scholars to take classes and internships in which they can write at more length and, well, have an excuse to study journalism at all. So what have I been doing for four years, Steve, slaving my way through our barely nascent non-fiction department for peanuts?!

End bitterness. Moving on.

“We need more better people in journalism,” Brill explains to the New York Times‘s Karen Arenson, if not with exact grammatical precision (and please don’t kill me for pointing that out). First, context: Yale is home to a very infamous selective program for poli sci students, “Grand Strategies,” sort of a training ground for future policy wonks and whiz kids and a pet cause of David Brooks. Brill’s program seems a pretty self-conscious adaptation of the model for journalists, so this — and forgive me for being unforgivably elitist and myopic (or wrong, Bob Kaiser) — could potentially be a pretty big deal.

So more power to Brill, I guess. For the last five years, he’s been teaching a seminar to some of my more better classmates, and it’s fun to imagine what the new “Yale Journalism Scholars” program could mean when you consider these rising New York media stars are recent graduates of the class:

  • Rebecca Dana, “NYTV” columnist for the Observer
  • Louise Story, remember, she of the New York Times front-page trend piece who loves stay-at-home Ivy League moms?
  • Natalie Krinsky, erstwhile blogger for the Village Voice and sex columnist-cum-author of Bushnellian romp Chloe Does Yale
  • Chris Rovzar, gossipy VH1 fundit from NYDN‘s Rush and Molloy
  • Zander Dryer, D.C. New Yorker bureau, former research assistant to New Republic editor Peter Beinart (also a Yalie!)
  • Sorry this sounds like bad Alumni Notes
  • And other people based elsewhere, but namedropping is pretentious
  • And admittedly insignificant me (Ed. Matter of opinion, sweet Fishtern)

    Now, I don’t know how much these kids owe their successes to Steve, but pretty much everyone in the class has a Brill-is-kinda-scary story, so I guess I should relate mine. (This was last fall, me at the tender, Pareene-ing age of 20.) Out of nowhere, Brill asked me what I thought was the worst thing about his class, and — and what was I thinking?! — I told him point-blank that I thought he had a bit of a tendency to go on about himself. He stared at me coldly for a full minute, deposition-style, then declared me the worst guinea pig in the world.

    That exchange was his lesson on how (not) to interview.

    I love Steve Brill.

    (P.S. Care to do me one better, Jesse Oxfeld? I know you can.)