Yale Press Initiative sees a change of director

Yale Press Initiative sees a change of director

Mark Oppenheimer 96 left the Yale Press Program after 16 years at the helm. Behind him, a graduate of the program, is a longtime freelance writer who worked as a reporter for The Economist in Argentina.

Isaac Yu

10:06 PM, August 30, 2022

Staff Reporter

Yale Daily News, courtesy of Haley Cohen Gilliland

Beginning next month, a new director will lead the Yale Press Initiative for the first time since the program was founded.

Haley Cohen Gilliland ’11, a freelance writer who has worked for The Economist in Argentina, London and California, will become a factual journalism mentor at Yale University next month. She replaces Mark Oppenheimer 96, who is stepping down after 16 years to focus on an upcoming book and other projects.

At Yale University, Cohen Gilliland wrote and edited for The New Journal. She points to Oppenheimer and other members of the English language faculty, including 74’s Fred Streibg and Anne Fadimann, as the “voices in her head” driving her career.

She said her new role was an opportunity to push him forward.

“Yale was definitely the reason I chose the career path I did,” Cohen Gilliland told the newspaper. “I’ve felt so supported in my career choices at every stage…Having this level of support is really rare.”

The new principal hopes to foster stronger bonds between students and fellow alumni. It also endeavors to make program offerings accessible to a wide range of students.

Cohen Gilliland isn’t the only familiar face making a comeback in the press. Another Yale graduate, Susan Dominos ’92 LAW ’99, arrived last spring to teach the signature ‘Journalism’ symposium, replacing Bob Woodward ’65. Joanne Lippmann 83, former editor in chief of USA TODAY, led a media seminar last fall.

YJI, founded in 2006, aims to support undergraduate students who are considering a career in journalism. Scholars of the program must take ENGL 467, the Foundation Seminar in Journalism, participate in student publications and complete an internship in summer reporting.

Oppenheimer, known outside of Yale University for a religious column in the New York Times and a book about the 2018 massacre at the Tree of Life synagogue, said Cohen Gilliland was a “terrific employee” for the department.

“[Cohen Gilliland] He is a highly talented journalist, with significant experience working abroad, reporting in multiple languages, and writing for a range of publications,” Oppenheimer wrote to News. “She is now working on a book that promises to be exceptionally good.”

Oppenheimer will now focus on his sixth book, the biography of tabloid columnist Ann Landers, as well as the new podcast “Gatecrashers,” which covers the history of Jews and anti-Semitism in the Ivy League and debuted September 13.

He said that while YJI has remained largely the same since coming to campus, student journalism has evolved with the rise of the Internet and smartphones. He said the student body has also become more liberal, a trend that is reflected in the published works.

In addition to YJI, Oppenheimer has taught a range of classic offerings for the Creative Writing Program, most recently the popular Spring Course Daily Themes. This class will now be taught by Andrew Ehrgood ’85 GRD ’93.

Meanwhile, Cohen Gilliland is working on her own book about Argentine women searching for grandchildren lost under the country’s former military regime. Her previous work spans a range of genres and publications; Cohen Gilliland said the most attractive topics to write about involve people who push their limits, from Amateur rock climbers to me Famous cloned horses.

“The mission of the program remains the same as it was 16 years ago — to help Yale students break into journalism,” Gilliland said. “The more we can encourage the diversity of voices in the press, the richer the press becomes.”

Gilliland also mentioned fact-checking, merchandising, and journalism ethics as potential workshop topics.

YJI was founded from a donation made by Steven Brill ’72 LAW ’75 and Cynthia Margolin Brill ’72.

Isaac Yu

Isaac Yu writes about Yale University faculty and academics. He has made the front page of the print edition, edited news on Instagram and previously covered transportation and urban planning in New Haven. Hailing from Garland, Texas, he is a sophomore at Berkeley College majoring in American Studies.

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