Every Literary Reportage student is paired with a professional writer for one semester of mentorship. It is a wonderful opportunity for an up-and-coming journalist to work with a professional, helping them on every facet of a project. Every week, in exchange for five hours of high-level research and reporting assistance, the writer provides an hour of constructive critique and guidance on the student’s work.
The mentorship program is one of many ways that the Literary Reportage concentration makes the most of our position in a city that is home to some of most respected writers in the world. Here are some of the professional journalists who have taken part in the program so far.
Working with Sarah Stillman was one of the highlights of my Lit Rep experience. I gleaned much from assisting a working writer on her projects, while getting constructive feedback on my own work in return–a truly valuable experience.”
– Sarah Aziza, Lit Rep ’17
Rachel Aviv is a staff writer at The New Yorker, where she writes about criminal justice, medicine, psychology, and ethics. Her writing has won a Scripps Howard Award, a Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers’ Award, and has been collected in the Best American Science Writing.
Julia Barton is the story editor for Malcolm Gladwell’s podcast Revisionist History. Her work has appeared on PRI’s The World, Radiolab, Marketplace, Studio 360, 99% Invisible, Life of the Law, among other shows. She has an MFA in nonfiction writing from the University of Iowa.
Jon Biggs is an entrepreneur, consultant, writer, and maker. He spent fifteen years as an editor for Gizmodo, CrunchGear, and TechCrunch and has a deep background in hardware startups, 3D printing, and blockchain. His work has appeared in Men’s Health, Wired, and the New York Times. He has written five books including the best book on blogging, Bloggers Boot Camp, and a book about the most expensive timepiece ever made, Marie Antoinette’s Watch. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.
Will Blythe is Editor-at-Large for Byliner.com, and the author of To Hate Like This Is To Be Happy Forever. The former literary editor of Esquire, he’s a frequent contributor to the New York Times Book Review as well as The New Yorker, Rolling Stone, and Sports Illustrated. His work has been anthologized in The Best American Short Stories and The Best American Sportswriting. Raised in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, Blythe now lives and works in New York City.
Peter J. Boyer joined The New Yorker as a staff writer in 1992. He has written on a wide range of subjects, including politics, the military, religion, and sports. Before joining The New Yorker, Boyer was a reporter for the Los Angeles Times and The New York Times, a contributing editor at Vanity Fair, and a television critic for National Public Radio’s “Morning Edition.” He won a George Foster Peabody Award, an Emmy, and consecutive Writers Guild Awards for his reporting for the documentary series “Frontline.” He is the author of the book Who Killed CBS?: The Undoing of America’s Number One News Network (Random House, 1988) and is at work on a book about American evangelism.
Alan Burdick is a senior editor at The New Yorker and a contributing editor for OnEarth, where he writes the “Synthesist” column about technology and nature. His writing has appeared in The New York Times Magazine, Harper’s, GQ, Discover, OnEarth, Best American Science and Nature Writing, and elsewhere. He also has served widely as an editor, including at The New York Times Magazine, Discover, and The Sciences. A former Guggenheim fellow, Burdick has received the AAAS Westinghouse prize for magazine feature writing and was a co-recipient of the Olive Branch Award for coverage of international security issues. His first nonfiction book, Out of Eden: An Odyssey of Ecological Invasion, was a National Book Award finalist and won the Overseas Press Club Award for environmental reporting.
One of the best experiences I’ve had through NYU. It gave me insight into how a New Yorker story gets put together. I feel lucky to have worked with a writer who does just the sort of stories I’ve always wanted to write.”
– Taylor Beck, Lit Rep 2014
Siddhartha Deb is an Indian author who was educated in India and at Columbia University in New York. His first novel, The Point of Return, is semi-autobiographical in nature and set in a fictional hill-station that closely resembles his native Shillong in India’s Northeast. His second novel, Surface, also set in Northeast India, is about a disillusioned Sikh journalist. His first non-fiction book, The Beautiful And the Damned: A Portrait of the New India (Viking Penguin, 2011) won the PEN Open Book Award. He has also contributed to the Boston Globe, The Guardian, The Nation, The New Statesman, Harper’s, the London Review of Books, and the Times Literary Supplement. He currently teaches creative writing at The New School in New York.
Benoit Denizet-Lewis is a contributing writer with The New York Times Magazine, where he covers stories about addiction, youth culture, sex and sexuality, sports, and music. He’s also the editor-in-chief of the Good Men Project Magazine, and writes for Deadspin, The Daily Beast, and The Advocate. He has previously contributed to Sports Illustrated, Details, Slate, Out, Boston Magazine, and others. He is the author of America Anonymous: Eight Addicts in Search of a Life, a narrative account of three years in the lives of eight men and women struggling with addictions, and American Voyeur: Dispatches From the Far Reaches of Modern Life, a collection of previously published writing. In an effort to get out of the house more, he teaches and speaks nationally on a variety of topics, including addiction, youth culture, and sex and sexuality. He’s currently working on his next book, about dogs in America.
Sasha Frere-Jones is a writer, music critic, and musician, best known for his work as the pop music critic for The New Yorker, where he has been on staff since 2004. He is also an editor-at-large of The Daily. He has written for Pretty Decorating, ego trip, Hit It And Quit It, Mean, Slant, The New York Post, The Wire, The Village Voice, Slate, Spin, and The New York Times.
Tad Friend has been a staff writer at The New Yorker since 1998. He writes the magazine’s Letter from California, and has examined suicides at the Golden Gate Bridge, Los Angeles’s fixation on police pursuits, the cemetery entrepreneur Tyler Cassity, the William Morris agent David Wirtschafter, and the electric car magnate Elon Musk. His work has been chosen for The Best American Travel Writing, The Best American Crime Reporting, and The Best Technology Writing. Before joining The New Yorker, Friend was a contributing editor at a number of publications, including Esquire. He is the author of a memoir, Cheerful Money: Me, My Family, and the Last Days of Wasp Splendor (2009), and Lost in Mongolia: Travels in Hollywood and Other Foreign Lands (2001), a collection of his articles.
The feedback New Yorker writer Tad Friend gave me on my own work was extremely insightful. It was one of the highlights of my time at NYU.”
– Cody Upton, Lit Rep 2013
Sarah Garland is a staff writer for The Hechinger Report with a focus on K-12. She has written for The New York Times, Newsweek, Newsday, The New York Sun, The New York Post, The Village Voice, New York Magazine and Marie Claire. She was a 2009 recipient of the Spencer Fellowship in Education Reporting at Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism and received her master’s degree from New York University as a Henry M. MacCracken fellow. Her first book was Gangs in Garden City, (Nation Books, 2009), and her second book is Divided We Fail: The Story of an African American Community That Ended the Era of School Desegregation (Beacon Press, 2013).
Michelle Goldberg became an Op-Ed columnist for The New York Times in 2017. She is the author of three books: Kingdom Coming: The Rise of Christian Nationalism, The Means of Reproduction: Sex, Power, and the Future of the World, and The Goddess Pose: The Audacious Life of Indra Devi, the Woman Who Helped Bring Yoga to the West.
Philip Gourevitch is a regular contributor to The New Yorker and the author of three books: Standard Operating Procedure (2008), A Cold Case (2001), and We Wish To Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed With Our Families: Stories from Rwanda (1998), which won the multiple awards including the National Book Critics Circle Award, the Los Angeles Times Book Award, the George K. Polk Book Award, and the New York Public Library Helen Bernstein Award. He has written about the aftermath of genocide in Rwanda and Cambodia, about the dictatorships of Mobutu Sese Seko, in Congo, and Robert Mugabe, in Zimbabwe, about the Tamil Tigers, in Sri Lanka, about Jean-Marie Le Pen’s National Front, in France, and about the American soldiers who served at Abu Ghraib prison, in Iraq. Closer to home, he has written about solving a cold-case double homicide in Manhattan, about arranged marriages in Queens, about a debt collector in Tulsa, and about the late musician James Brown, in Augusta, Georgia. He also has written for Granta, Harper‘s, and The New York Review of Books.
David Grann is an author and staff writer at The New Yorker magazine. His first book was The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon, which was a New York Times #1 bestseller and is currently being developed into a movie by Brad Pitt’s Plan B production company. His new book, The Devil and Sherlock Holmes: Tales of Murder, Madness, and Obsession, contains a dozen true stories. that focus on everything from the mysterious death of the world’s greatest Sherlock Holmes expert to the hunt for the giant squid, from sandhogs building a dangerous maze of water tunnels under New York City to a Polish writer who may have left clues to a real murder in his postmodern novel. Grann’s stories have also appeared in The Best American Crime Writing, of 2004, 2005, and 2009; The Best American Sports Writing, of 2003 and 2006; and The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2009. Grann has also written for the New York Times Magazine, The Atlantic, the Washington Post, the Boston Globe, the Wall Street Journal, and The New Republic.
Clive Thompson was a most generous mentor, offering direction on my writing, advice and insights on the mechanics of magazine publishing. The mentorship was one of the best components of the Lit Rep program, and I can’t recommend it enough.”
– Sean Patrick Cooper, Lit Rep 2013
Elizabeth Green is a reporter and editor at Gotham Schools and also writes for The New York Times Magazine and other publications. She is currently working on a book called How to Build a Better Teacher. She previously covered education for the New York Sun and for U.S. News & World Report magazine.
Matt Gross is a food and travel writer who works for publications such as Saveur, Afar, WorldHum.com, and The New York Times, where he wrote the Frugal Traveler column and contributes to the series “Getting Lost.” He also writes “The Voyager,” a column for Currency, a personal-finance website run by American Express, and blogs about various and sundry at The Minor Glories and on parenting in New York City at Dadwagon.com.
Virginia Heffernan is a culture and media critic for The New York Times. She has worked as a fact-checker for The New Yorker, a writer at VH1, an editor at Harper’s and Talk, as well as served as TV critic for Slate. She also holds a doctorate in English literature from Harvard, wrote the Emmy-nominated Matthew’s Murder for MTV, and has been anthologized (with co-writer and former roommate Mike Albo) in the comedic-monologue collection Extreme Exposure. In June 2002, the Columbia Journalism Review named Heffernan one of its “Ten Young Editors to Watch.”
Jack Hitt, is the author of a new book, Bunch of Amateurs: A Search for the American Character. Most days, he’s a contributing writer to the New York Times Magazine, and occasionally contributes to the public radio program, This American Life. His book, Off the Road: A Modern-Day Walk Down the Pilgrim’s Route into Spain, was made into a motion picture, “The Way,” directed by Emilio Estévez and starring Martin Sheen. His work has won the Peabody, Livingston and Pope Awards. His Harper’s report on American anthropology was selected for a collection of the best science writing of the past 25 years, The Best of the Best of American Science Writing. His work also appears in Harper’s, Rolling Stone and Wired. He is currently touring a one-man show, “Making Up the Truth”—a series of his slightly incredible real-life stories woven in with the contemporary brain science that nearly answers the question, “Is any of this true?”
Kathryn Joyce was invested in my work from the first time we met, and supported me through the development of two big stories. She offered reporting guidance, edited my pitches, and was always willing to share her own lessons from the field.”
– Amelia Schonbeck, Lit Rep 2014
Kathryn Joyce is a journalist and author of Quiverfull: Inside the Christian Patriarchy Movement (Beacon Press, 2009) and The Child Catchers: Rescue, Trafficking and the New Gospel of Adoption (PublicAffairs, 2013), a book on adoption and religion. Her freelance writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Atlantic, The Nation, Mother Jones, Pacific Standard, The American Prospect, Slate, Salon, Newsweek, Ms., Religion Dispatches, The Daily Beast, The Harvard Divinity Bulletin, The Massachusetts Review, Conscience and other publications. A 2011 Knight-Luce Fellow in Global Religion Reporting, she has also been awarded residencies and fellowship support by the Nation Institute Investigative Fund, the Pulitzer Center for Crisis Reporting, the MacDowell Colony, and the Bellagio Center, and she was a recipient of the 2010 “Maggie Award.”
Steven Levy bootstrapped his way into journalism in 1975 and began writing about technology in 1981—the people who make it, and its effects on all of us. He’s been pursuing this story ever since. Before he joined Wired magazine as a full time writer in 2008, he was a freelancer and worked at Newsweek as senior editor, chief technology correspondent, and writer of a column called “The Technologist.” He’s written six books including Hackers, Crypto, The Perfect Thing and, most recently, In the Plex, based on immersion reporting with Google. His writing has appeared in a wide range of publications including The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine, Harper’s and Premiere.
Larissa MacFarquhar has been a staff writer at The New Yorker since 1998. Her subjects have included John Ashbery and Edward Albee, among many others. Before joining The New Yorker, MacFarquhar was a senior editor at Lingua Franca and an advisory editor at The Paris Review.
Pejk Malinovski is a freelance radio producer, sound artist and poet based in Brooklyn. His documentaries have aired on radio stations and podcasts around the world and won numerous awards.
D.T. Max is a graduate of Harvard University and a staff writer at The New Yorker. His new book, Every Love Story Is A Ghost Story: A Life of David Foster Wallace, (Viking Penguin, 2012) was a New York Times bestseller. He is also the author of The Family That Couldn’t Sleep: A Medical Mystery. He has reported mostly for the New Yorker and The New York Times Magazine on everything from the quagga, an extinct relative of the zebra that a South African taxidermist tried to breed back to life, to the president’s speechwriters in the days after September 11th. He lives in New Jersey with his wife, their two young children, and a rescued beagle who came to them named Max.
Terence Mickey has taught storytelling at The Moth, and is the co-founder of The Listening Booth and creator of Memory Motel.
Lu Olkowski is an audio producer who is drawn to stories that evolve through multiple generations: how pride or shame in one’s racial identity, poverty and artistic impulse can be passed down in families. Her work has won a Third Coast award and the National Edward R. Murrow award, among others. At present she is working on three secret radio projects.
I had the opportunity to help with research while also observing the process of book-creation from early drafts to book tours. This is the type of hands-on experience that you can’t get in the classroom.”
– Katherine Don, Lit Rep 2012
Jennifer Percy is a National Magazine Award–winning journalist and a contributing writer at the New York Times Magazine. Her nonfiction book Demon Camp was a New York Times Notable Book and a Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers pick. She has received grants and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts Foundation, the MacDowell Colony, Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and elsewhere. Her work has been published widely in magazines such as Esquire, the New York Times, the New Republic, and Harper’s.
Katha Pollitt is an American feminist poet, essayist and critic best known for her bimonthly column “Subject to Debate” in The Nation magazine. She is the author of four essay collections and two books of poetry, including, most recently, Learning to Drive: And Other Life Stories (Random House, 2007), a collection of personal essays. Her writing focuses on political and social issues, including abortion rights, racism, welfare reform, feminism and poverty. In addition to The Nation, Pollitt has also written essays and book reviews for The New Yorker, The Atlantic, The New Republic, Harper’s, Ms., Glamour, Mother Jones, The New York Times, and the London Review of Books.
Matthew Power was a freelance print and radio journalist and a contributing editor at Harper’s magazine as well as a three-time finalist (2005, 2006, 2007) for the Livingston Award for Young Journalists in the International Reporting category and a 2006 finalist for the Kurt Schork Award in International Journalism. His work is anthologized in Best American Science and Nature Writing 2005, Best American Spiritual Writing 2006, Best American Travel Writing 2007, Best American Travel Writing 2009, Best American Nonrequired Reading 2009, Best American Travel Writing 2010, and is reprinted in the textbook Writing as Surviving. He was a 2010-2011 Knight-Wallace Fellow.
Eyal Press is a journalist and author of Beautiful Souls: Saying No, Breaking Ranks and Heeding the Voice of Conscience in Dark Times (2012), and Absolute Convictions (2006), a narrative account of the abortion conflict. His articles have appeared in the New York Review of Books, The New York Times Magazine, The Atlantic, The Nation, and the Raritan Review. He is a past recipient of the James Aronson Award for Social Justice Journalism.
Janet Reitman is a contributing editor at Rolling Stone and the author of Inside Scientology: The Story of America’s Most Secretive Religion (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2011). Reitman also covered the war in Iraq for Rolling Stone and has reported on a wide range of other topics, including: the 2013 Boston bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev; the Bradley Manning case; Anonymous hacktivists; the failure of the US and international relief efforts in post-earthquake Haiti; the Duke lacrosse scandal; the death of American aid worker Marla Ruzicka in Baghdad; and the national childhood obesity crisis. She has also reported extensively in Africa, profiling Zimbabwean leader Robert Mugabe, and covering conflicts in Sudan and Sierra Leone. In addition to Rolling Stone, Reitman’s work has appeared in GQ, Men’s Journal, The New York Times Magazine, the Los Angeles Times Sunday Magazine, ESPN THE MAGAZINE, and Salon, among other publications.
The mentorship program was one of the most valuable parts of my experience at NYU. My mentor welcomed me into her process, letting me witness and participate in the creation of her book. She also helped me develop my own writing by offering thoughtful, honest feedback and by championing my work.”
– Jessica Campbell, Lit Rep 2012
Frank Rose writes about the future of media. He is the author of The Art of Immersion: How the Digital Generation Is Remaking Hollywood, Madison Avenue, and the Way We Tell Stories (Norton, 2011), about how the Internet is changing storytelling. It was inspired by his work as a contributing editor at Wired. Earlier books include West of Eden: The End of Innocence at Apple Computer; The Agency: William Morris and the Hidden History of Show Business; and Into the Heart of the Mind: An American Quest for Artificial Intelligence. He was a contributing writer at Fortune and Premiere, and contributing editor at Esquire and Travel + Leisure. He’s also written for The New York Times Magazine, The Los Angeles Times Magazine, New York, Vanity Fair, and Rolling Stone.
Ron Rosenbaum is a journalist and author of The Shakespeare Wars and Explaining Hitler. His latest book is How the End Begins: The Road to a Nuclear World War III, which discusses the paradoxes of deterrence, the danger of nuclear proliferation, and whether the bomb comprises an “exceptionalist” argument about warfare and genocide. He wrote “The Edgy Enthusiast” column for the New York Observer and currently writes “The Spectator” column for Slate. He has also written for Esquire, Harper’s, High Times, Vanity Fair, and The New York Times Magazine.
Elizabeth Rubin is a contributing writer for the New York Times Magazine and her stories have also appeared in The Atlantic Monthly, The New Republic, Harper’s Magazine, Vogue, and The New Yorker. She has traveled through and written about Afghanistan, Russia, Chechnya, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Israel, the Palestinian territories, Uganda, Sierra Leone, South Africa, and the former Yugoslavia.
I consider my mentor Sarah Garland my big sister now. She gave me great advice, and a strong sense of how much research must go into writing a narrative nonfiction book.”
– Khristopher J. Brooks, Lit Rep 2012
Lauren Sandler is a journalist who has written on gender, culture and politics for The New York Times, Time, The Atlantic, Elle, The New Republic, The Nation, The Guardian and many other publications. She is the author of the forthcoming This Is All I Got, a narrative work of immersion journalism about a young homeless mother in New York, as well as the books Righteous and One and Only. Lauren has been on staff at NPR and Salon, and has taught at Yale, Columbia, Dartmouth with the Op-Ed Project, as well as here at NYU.
Nathan Schneider is a journalist, author, editor, and chronicler of ideas, of perfect worlds, of ordinary imaginations in practice. He is author of God in Proof: The Story of a Search from the Ancients to the Internet (UC Press, 2013) and Thank You, Anarchy: Notes from the Occupy Apocalypse (UC Press, 2013) and has written for The New York Times, Harper’s, The Nation, and many others. He is also an editor of the online religion magazine Killing the Buddha and co-founded the publication Waging Nonviolence.
Jennifer Senior is a contributing editor at New York Magazine and recently published her first book, All Joy and No Fun: The Paradox of Modern Parenthood (Ecco, 2014).
Sarah Stillman is a staff writer for The New Yorker and a visiting scholar at NYU’s Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute. Her recent work has received the National Magazine Award, the Michael Kelly Award for the “fearless pursuit and expression of truth,” the Overseas Press Club’s Joe & Laurie Dine Award for International Human Rights Reporting, and the Hillman Prize for Magazine Journalism. Her coverage of America’s wars overseas and the challenges facing soldiers at home has appeared in The New Yorker, The Washington Post, The Nation, The New Republic.com, Slate.com, and The Atlantic.com. She is currently reporting on immigration and criminal justice issues.
The mentorship program was a great way to get some intimate advice from an older role model. It was useful to get a glimpse into the life of an established writer in New York, and the challenges and privileges that comes with experience.”
– Per Liljas, Lit Rep 2013
Patrick Symmes is a writer and journalist who covers insurgencies, global environmental problems, travel, and the geopolitics that underlie them all, for magazines like Harper’s, Outside, and Condé Nast Traveler, as well as Newsweek, GQ, Wired, Mother Jones, The New York Times, and the Telegraph in London. He specializes in Latin America, particularly Cuba, but has worked from Patagonia to Phnom Penh, and Cape Town to Kazakhstan. He is the author of The Boys from Dolores (Pantheon, 2007), about what happened to Fidel Castro’s own schoolmates, and Chasing Che (Vintage, 2000), about riding his motorcycle across South America.
Clive Thompson is the author of Smarter Than You Think: How Technology is Changing Our Minds for the Better (Penguin Press, 2013), as well as a contributing writer for the New York Times Magazine and columnist for Wired magazine, focusing on science, technology, and culture. In 2002, he was awarded a Knight Science Journalism Fellowship at MIT.
Tom Vanderbilt writes on design, technology, science, and culture, among other subjects, for many publications, including Wired, Outside, The London Review of Books, The Financial Times, The Wall Street Journal, Rolling Stone, The New York Times Magazine, and Popular Science. He is contributing editor to Artforum and the design magazine Print and I.D., contributing writer of the popular blog Design Observer, and columnist for Slate magazine. His most recent book is the New York Times bestseller Traffic: Why We Drive the Way We Do (and What It Says About Us), (Alfred A. Knopf, 2009). He is also the author of two previous books: Survival City: Adventures Among the Ruins of Atomic America (Princeton Architectural Press, 2002) and The Sneaker Book (The New Press, 1998).
Katherine Zoepf is the author of Excellent Daughters: The Secret Lives of Young Women Who are Transforming the Arab World, which was published by The Penguin Press in 2016, and has since been translated into five languages. She has been a fellow at New America since 2010, and she has taught in New York University’s journalism program since 2015. A graduate of Princeton University and the London School of Economics, her writing has appeared in the New York Observer, the Chronicle of Higher Education, the New York Times Magazine, and the New Yorker, among other publications.
The best part of the mentorship program is that it doesn’t end once the semester is over. I’m still in touch with Katherine Zoepf about everything from small life decisions to new jobs. I met my agent through her, so it’s safe to say my book wouldn’t have happened without her!”
– Laura Smith, Lit Rep ’15